The Basics: Overview
When you are taking care of a loved one, make time to care for yourself, too. The emotional and physical stress of caregiving can cause health problems.
What is a caregiver?
A caregiver is someone who helps a family member, friend, or neighbor who is sick or has a disability. An informal or family caregiver often helps a loved one with basic daily tasks.
You may be a caregiver if you regularly help someone with:
- Grocery shopping
- Getting dressed
- Taking and keeping track of medicine
- Using medical equipment
- Cooking food
- Transportation, like car rides to appointments
- Managing services, like talking to doctors
About 1 in 4 Americans is a caregiver. Most caregivers have other jobs and spend at least 20 hours a week caring for a loved one.
The Basics: Caregiver Stress
The stress of caregiving can hurt your health.
When you are caring for a loved one, it can be hard to take care of your own health. Caregivers are more at risk for colds and the flu. They are also more likely to have long-term health problems, like arthritis, diabetes, or depression.
Here are some signs you may have caregiver stress:
- Feeling angry or sad
- Feeling like it’s more than you can handle
- Feeling like you don't have time to care for yourself
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Having trouble eating, or eating too much
- Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
Find out more about caregiver stress.
The good news is that you can lower your risk for health problems if you take care of yourself and get support.