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Caring for others may be bad for your health (and your wallet)

April 26, 2011 |  1:39 pm

Caring for sick or aging relatives exacts a huge emotional and professional toll, according to a new study.

A whopping 86% of people tending to sick or elderly relatives say they’ve been forced to take time off from work, quit their jobs, reduce their hours or take leaves of absence, according to the survey by Caring.com, a webite for caregivers.

And 1 in 4 caregivers say they suffer from depression, significantly higher than the 9% national average documented in a study last year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study illustrates how tending to relatives, especially those with debilitating illnesses or in need of extensive care, deeply affects caregivers themselves. Of those surveyed, 52% were caring for a parent and 36% for a spouse.

Almost a third of those surveyed said they spend more than 30 hours a week looking after loved ones, and more than three-quarters acknowledged being worried about the financial effect of caregiving on their personal savings.

And that doesn’t account for the daily stress and toll on their own health. More than a third of caregivers reported having high blood pressure, and more than half acknowledged sleep problems.

-- Walter Hamilton

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