Caregivers are more likely to be women (in almost 80% of the cases); perhaps a daughter, wife, sister or daughter-in-law of the person being cared for. Women tend to stay home to provide time-consuming care to one or more ill or disabled friends or family members, while men respond to loved one's needs for support by delaying retirement, in part to shoulder the financial burden associated with long-term care.
The impact of the women's intensive caregiving can be substantial. Middle-aged and older women who provided care for an ill or disabled spouse were almost six times as likely to suffer depressive or anxious symptoms as were those who had no caregiving responsibilities. It's not only care for a spouse that can affect mental health, however; the same study found that women who cared for ill parents were twice as likely to suffer from depressive or anxious symptoms as noncaregivers.
Some common hallmarks of women's caregiving experience include:
- A higher level of hostility and a greater decline in happiness for caregivers of a family member;
- Greater increases in symptoms of depression, less "personal mastery" and less self-acceptance;
- High caregiving-related stress
Compounding this picture, physical ailments are not uncommon. Researchers found that more than one-third of caregivers provide intense and continuing care to others while suffering from poor health themselves. Additionally, a 1999 study indicated that as compared to noncaregivers, women caregivers were twice as likely not to fill a prescription because of the cost (26% vs. 13%). Elderly women caring for a loved one who has dementia may be particularly susceptible to the negative health effects of caregiving because they receive significantly less help from family members for their own disabilities.
Caregivers are more likely to be women (in almost 80% of the
cases); perhaps a daughter, wife, sister or daughter-in-law of the
person being cared for. Women tend to stay home to provide
time-consuming care to one or more ill or disabled... More