According to a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Health Policy Research, caregivers are more stressed, partake in more unhealthy habits and struggle more than those without such large responsibilities.
Using data from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey, the authors found that the 6 million plus caregivers in California spend over 20 hours a week caring for a elder loved one, causing many to feel distressed and worn out.
"We may be seeing an association between caregiving and stress, where caregivers are both more likely to be seriously depressed and to exhibit certain health behaviors that put them at risk," lead author Geoffrey Hoffman said. "These effects on caregivers' overall health merit attention from policymakers."
According to the data, caregivers of all ages who reported serious psychological distress were 208 percent more likely to take up smoking than non-caregivers who also suffer from serious psychological distress.
Those stressed about not being able to take care of their loved one at all times may want to install a medical alert system in their parents' home. This device allows a senior to call for help in an instant, which can bring some peace to a worried caregiver.