Caregiver Stress

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ASC 4126 – The AIDS Pandemic

Caregiver Stress

Caregivers are those people who provide assistance to other people who are unable to perform certain activities on their own because of a physical disability or chronic illness. Formal care can be obtained at home, or from institutions such as nursing homes, and is offered by trained, paid or volunteer professional caregivers. However, informal care, which is usually offered by family members or friends, often in a home setting, is becoming increasingly common. These caregivers are normally inexperienced, untrained, and otherwise lacking the education necessary to maintain their own good health under the stressful conditions they face. Informal caregiving can have significant effects on the mental and physical health of the caregiver, and this will continue to become an increasing social problem in the United States as the population ages and the number of people requiring care outpaces the availability and affordability of professional care. Therefore, it is important to address the warning signs of caregiver stress, the potential health consequences and the ways in which the stress can be managed. Informal caregiving is becoming an increasingly standard function of many American families. It is estimated that there are 29.2 million family caregivers in the United States, and about a quarter of them are caring for an aging parent. (McLeod) One of the common unintentional, harmful effects that is a reality in informal caregiving is that there is the potential for the “illness or disability or injury of the one (being cared for to) become such a focus it almost replaces the rest of their identity”. (Article 8) The same kind of thinking can also be used to explain the health risks that the caregivers themselves face. Caregiving can be very stressful, time consuming and demanding. Informal caregiving, which is usually a healthy spouse, child or parent living with the disabled person at home, can...
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