AP-NORC Poll: Many caregivers neglecting their own health

Skipping your checkup but not grandma's? Caring for an older loved one is a balancing act, and a new poll shows that too often it's the caregivers' health that's neglected.

The survey, by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found about a third of caregivers have gone without a routine physical or dental care, skipped or didn't schedule a test or treatment or even forgot to fill a prescription or failed to see a doctor for their own illness or injury because they were too busy with their caregiving duties.

Doctors miss opportunities to help. Most caregivers go to medical appointments with the seniors they care for, yet the poll found they're less likely to get information about self-care, support programs or other services during those visits than if they make time to see their own physicians for advice.

Four in 10 Americans have provided long-term care to an older family member or friend, a volunteer workforce that's growing as the population ages. The AP-NORC survey found that for nearly a quarter of them, especially caregivers who are over 40, the amount of time spent on caregiving duties is equivalent to a full-time job.

Most informal caregivers view their role as key to their identity. But it can be difficult to meet their own physical and mental health needs.

 

Dawn Kamber