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An Accidental Death Sentence


43 million family caregivers provide $500 BILLION worth of unpaid care every year in the USA. Our entire healthcare system is dependent on this. That may be the reason that statistics are hard to find about the damage to the health of the caregivers that results. Stress kills and caregiving causes various levels of stress. Stress is often called a contributing factor because it taxes the immune system resulting in other complications.

63% of caregivers for dementia patients pass away before the one they are caring for. That death sentence was not on purpose but an accidental result of not knowing what stress does to the health of the caregiver. Unlike caregivers in other settings, the family caregiver rarely has shifts where they go home to a less stressful existence. A cottage industry is available to assist caregivers in dealing with situations but not the chronic stress.

Assisted living communities across the country are responding to the memory care needs of dementia patients. They provide professional programming, 24/7 care, and staffing to watch over the daily activities of those with cognition concerns. The family still plays an important part in the life of their loved ones, but not at the cost of their very life. Especially when the caregiver is a spouse, it allows them to be the spouse again.

After working with thousands of families we know the toll on the health of caregivers. Often, we are asked “when is it time for placement?”. The answer is no later than the first sign of health deterioration of the caregiver. High blood pressure, lack of sleep, headaches, kidney disorders, and breathing problems are just a few of the more common symptoms stress can cause. We often sadly meet caregivers at Emergency Rooms.

Other family members are often unaware of the stress effect and add to it with their own expectations regarding placement. Sadly, if they become caregivers upon the passing of the member who was providing care, their perception changes. A family discussion with professionals in the industry providing facts is helpful in both the short-term and long-term. The financial options should be considered early as well.

Far too often the caregiving falls to the spouse whose health is already compromised. This accidental death sentence can and should be rejected. We can relate story after story, many that helped cause that statistic that 63% of caregivers pass away first. Placement in a local memory care community, chosen with the help of a CarePatrol placement professional, dramatically reduces hospital visits as well.

A strange phenomenon is that healthcare professionals who know the most about the effect are the hardest to admit it affects them. This proves it is not just the knowledge, but also the willingness to accept help. Those who counsel others to get help often find it harder to accept help personally. Caregiver stress effects everyone, and it has a negative health effect on everyone. We can help. Contact us today.

About the author
David Wilkins


CarePatrol of the Villages to the Gulf

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