It's been estimated that more than 25 million Americans can call themselves caregivers. The Indiana Research-ers reported that "at least half of American women will care for a disabled family members during their lifetime."
Working women were least likely to experience physical limitations, suggesting that, according to researchers, "they may have resources from work or home that allow them to gain benefits from both roles."
However, the average employed caregiver is subject to more than $660,000 in lost wages, Social Security and pension contributions, and other costs because of taking time off and diverting efforts away from job and career advancement, according to a MetLife Mature Market Institute study.
Elderly caregiving spouses experiencing stress and strain are at greater risk of death than those who do not bear any caregiver responsibilities, reported researchers conducting a University of Pittsburgh study. The risk of death among the former was more than 60 percent higher than noncaregiving spouses, according to the survey of the death rate over four years of 392 older caregiving spouses and 427 noncaregivers. Study subjects were aged 66 to 90 years and divided almost equally between men and women.
So the only person who can care for the caregiver is the caregiver himself or herself.
He or she can seek succor from another caregiver or support groups but the most help is going to come from herself or himself.
The first step is to ask for help, said Gary Barg, Today's Caregiver Magazine editor and author of "The Fearless Caregiver" (Capital Books, 264 pages, $15.95) that says it all in his subtitle: "How to Get the Best Care for Your Loved One and Still Have a Life of Your Own."
"Don't feel you have to be a hero," he wrote.
Suggest specific things people around you can do.
"Ask one to sit with your loved one for a few hours. Ask another to pick up groceries." A neighbor assists in caregiving another elderly neighbor just by being available for quick phone calls and dropping by for simple tasks.
Be alert for signs of caregiver burnout, Barg said. It's important to be honest with yourself and "willing to hear feedback from those around you."
Organizing vital medical and financial facts and documents will make your job easier, he said.
"Keep records of all medications and reactions: make notes about what works, what doesn't and when you informed the physician of any problems. Start or continue to maintain copies of medical records for your loved one, and for yourself, as well.
Barg also advises caregivers to recognize when it's time to get professional help.
"When in-home caregiving becomes more than you or your family can handle, consider hiring a geriatric-care manager or finding a caregiver-friendly facility."
Mature Life Features