Stress of being a Caregiver

Providing care to a loved one can be a difficult and stressful task, emotionally, financially and physically. A national study conducted by AARP found that 80% of working caregivers reported emotional strain; 50 percent reported financial strain; and 40 percent missed work on a regular basis to address the needs of an elderly loved one. Women as caregivers are almost twice as likely to experience three or more stress factors than men. With the expection of paid workers, caregivers are most likely out of anyone to burnout. These are people who devote themselves to unpaid care of a family member.

Caring for a loved one is challenging and time-consuming. It disrupts the normal relationship patterns between family members and providing new activities related to the patient’s disabilities and still spending quality time with them takes careful planning.

A MetLife study showed in 1999, that caregiving costs were huge when lost wages, pensions, Social Security, and negative health impacts were considered. Relying on a family member to provide care often puts them at risk to suffer serious financial losses. Working caregivers miss work frequently and are often forced by circumstances to quit their jobs.

The physical requirements are another consideration. For example, a 75 year old woman is caring for her husband, aged 78. He requires care because he can no longer transfer on his own and needs help with just about every activity in his daily life. That means the wife will be lifting, turning, and steadying him many times a day; a physical challenge for anyone. It is often the case that the wife will require long term care herself as a result of this stress.

For more information on preventing caregiver burnout, visit

1. American Association of Retired Persons, 1997
2. A MetLife Study of Employed Caregivers, 2001