America's caregivers are increasingly putting their own needs last in order to sustain their charges through an increasingly complicated health care system, according to a new AP-NORC poll.

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Data: AP-NORC poll conducted March 13–April 5, 2018 amongst 1,024 U.S. adults who have or are currently providing long-term care. Margin of error is ±4.1 percentage points; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The big picture: "Four in 10 Americans have provided long-term care to an older relative or friend... for nearly a quarter of them... the amount of time spent on caregiving duties is equivalent to a full-time job."

By the numbers:

  • "Nearly 40 percent of caregivers have a health problem, physical disability or mental health condition that impacts their daily life or limits their activities."
  • "44 percent sleep less [as a result of caregiving], and 17 percent increase alcohol or tobacco use."
  • Less than a quarter of caregivers have talked to their personal doctors about their roles.

The bottom line: "Caregivers and their charges 'should be treated simultaneously,' said University of Pittsburgh aging specialist Richard Schulz. 'They should be looked at as a unit,' because if the caregiver burns out, the patient may have no one left."

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