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.
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."