A caregiver is a person who provides help to an individual who requires assistance with daily living due to old age, disease, a mental disorder, or disability. Caregivers can be paid, but are often unpaid family members or other persons from the individual’s social network. Typical tasks of caregivers include helping the individual to eat, bathe, dress, and use the toilet, as well as pay bills, clean the house, manage medicine, and monitor health. Caregiving can be highly stressful for caregivers, especially when caring for someone who is severely disabled or suffers from mental problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Among those who work full or part-time jobs while caregiving, the responsibility of caregiving can prove an added burden. Almost half of such caregivers stated they had to go in late, leave early, or take time off due to their caregiving responsibilities, while 15 percent had to take a leave of absence and six percent had to give up work entirely. If a caregiver provides care to a spouse or family member, this circumstance can possibly strain the relationship between the caregiver and the recipient. For example, almost 40 percent of husbands who act as a caregiver to their spouse stated that their relationship had suffered as a result of caregiving. Similarly, just over 30 percent of daughters who act as a caregiver to a parent said their relationship with their parent had suffered as a result of their caregiving role.
Most care recipients require care simply due to old age, however others require care due to a more serious and specific issue, such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. As of 2016, in California alone, there were around 1.6 million Alzheimer and dementia caregivers. Caring for these individuals can be particularly stressful, with almost 60 percent of such caregivers reporting high or very high emotional stress in 2014.
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