Am Fam Physician. 2019;99(11):online
See related article on caregiver care
Who is a caregiver?
A caregiver is a friend or relative who provides unpaid care for someone with a chronic or disabling condition.
What are the benefits and challenges of caregiving?
Caregiving is associated with personal satisfaction in helping a loved one. However, most caregivers feel unprepared to provide care. Caregivers report having less time to spend with other family members and friends. They may have trouble with money because of their caregiving expenses. They also are less likely to make time for regular health care for themselves. Caregivers with high stress levels are at risk of serious medical problems.
What can my doctor do to help?
When taking the person you are caring for to the doctor, it is important to tell the doctor that you are the caregiver. The doctor may ask how you feel about caregiving, how much help your loved one needs, and how you provide this care. The doctor may refer you to other resources for help.
What can I do to help myself?
Make sure to take time for yourself. Find ways to help relieve your stress, such as talking to friends or family, exercising, meditating, or praying. It may help to find other support services in your area. Make sure to visit your doctor on a regular basis to help protect your own health.
Where can I find more information?
AAFP's Patient Information Resource
Family Caregiver Alliance
Caregiver Action Network
U.S. Administration on Aging Eldercare Locator