More than one-third of caregivers suffer from poor health while caring for a loved one, according to data published in the American Journal of Public Health (2002). Caregivers often neglect their own health while providing advanced care for others.

Family caregivers are at risk for chronic or disabling conditions much like the person they care for. In a multifaceted situation, a caregiver’s emotional, mental, and physical health are all affected. As health issues among caregivers increase, health professionals, policy makers, and caregivers themselves strive to ensure mental health and medical services are available for this vital group, increasing and improving options available to caregivers.

Advances in home care technology, limited discharge planning, and shorter hospital stays, also force caregivers to carry a heavier load—both financially and physically. Additional support is needed to maintain their physical and emotional health. Self-care is critical for both caregivers and care recipients.

Caregiver health issues can be alleviated by respite programs to reduce caregiver burden; financial support to reduce economic stress; and education to increase skill levels. Catholic Charities Day Break Adult Day Center and Live Oak Adult Day Services are two options within Santa Clara County offering adult day care. Sourcewise offers the Family Caregiver Support Program to help caregivers find relief—providing a chance to focus on self-care, and to enjoy a well-deserved break.