Health Risks Associated with Caregiving

Hello readers,

I am pleased to share more thoughts about health risks for caregivers. In a previous post, I misquoted research done and it was picked up by reader Claude Thau of Kansas (if I’m remembering your home state correctly). The JAMA article I quoted actually indicated that caregivers had 63% higher mortality indicators than noncaregivers. I misquoted the article and I am happy to provide the clarification.

Certainly the point of the original post was that health risks for caregivers can and should be minimized — and that’s why I’m really happy to have Mr. Thau’s attention drive home the point once again.

I bring this message of “CAREGIVERS, SEEK WELLNESS” as a once-again (albeit temporary) caregiver myself.  My 58-year old cousin from Dallas was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s a few months ago. She has come to CT to have me teach her how to live with it. And so I am. But my heart stops when I “lose” her in the grocery store, even if for a moment. And my brain is distracted when I’m at work, wondering when she will reappear from volunteering with our residents. And I don’t sleep well, considering the financial strain every time she has an urge to buy something or gets up to use the restroom, or even rolls over in bed. And my heart aches with my 9-year old’s frustration when “Auntie P” wakes her up to check on her in the wee-hours of the morning.  My dog loves her though as Pat feeds the dog breakfast again…(we had to hide the treats).

So I know first hand how hard it is – but we MUST take time to get to our own MD visits, do some tai chi before they wake up in the am, rest and rejoice with friends through support groups – or journal to get it out of your system. Be well caregivers, in any way you can when you can. We are here to support you and will help you think of ways to minimize your risk factors. Check www.agingcareacademy.org for more ideas.

And now I’m off to schedule my overdue mammogram – thank you Ms. Sarah, secretary on our Dementia Special Care Unit for reminding me that I’m important too!

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