Family Members Caring for People With Cognitive and Behavioral Health Conditions: Nationwide Survey Results
October 23rd, 2014
In 2012, 9.6 million adults in the United States had lived with a serious mental illness in the past year. Also, 20 percent of adults over age fifty have depression, and about 11 percent suffer from anxiety disorders. And what about the people who care for an aging population? What challenges do family caregivers face when supporting and providing for adults with chronic physical and mental illness?
The report, “Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care to People with Cognitive and Behavioral Health Conditions,” published in August by the AARP Public Policy Institute and the United Hospital Fund (UHF), with support from the John A. Hartford Foundation and the AARP Foundation, sheds some light on the stresses and challenges that family caregivers of people with these conditions face.
The report is the third in the “Insight on the Issues” series, based on analyses from a December 2011 national survey of 1,677 family caregivers. Earlier findings were published in the AARP/UHF report Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care and earlier publications in the series.
The Stresses of Family Caregiving
According to the survey results, nearly half of family caregivers performed medical/nursing tasks (such as medication management and wound care) in addition to assisting with both activities of daily living (such as bathing and dressing) and instrumental activities of daily living (such as transportation and shopping). And about half of this group provided care for a family member with at least one behavioral or cognitive health condition.
Authors Susan C. Reinhard of AARP and Sarah Samis and Carol Levine of UHF define cognitive impairments as memory problems, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease, and behavioral conditions as depression, anxiety, or other mental illness.
In addition, care recipients with behavioral and/or cognitive conditions were more likely to have chronic physical diagnoses such as stroke/hypertension, musculoskeletal problems, cardiac disease, and diabetes than care recipients who did not have behavioral or cognitive conditions. Care recipients with both behavioral health and cognitive conditions were most likely to have undergone ambulatory surgery or to have gone to a hospital emergency department. Read the rest of this entry »