The impact of caregiving on informal carers’ mental and physical health
The correlation between caregiving and physical and mental health is well established. In particular, research has traditionally highlighted the negative consequences on carers’ health, by focusing on the stress and burden associated with caregiving. Caring for a dependent family member presents all the features of a chronic stress experience: it creates the physical and psychological strain over extended periods of time, is accompanied by high levels of unpredictability and uncontrollability, has the capacity to create secondary stress in multiple life domains such as work and family relationships, and frequently requires high levels of vigilance.
As a result of these stressors, the carer may experience psychological distress symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, which may – in turn – negatively affect the carer’s physical health. Besides, the physical health is negatively affected by caregiving responsibilities, not least because carers are less likely than others to meet their own health needs. This can result in harmful habits and lifestyles (e.g. smoking, inadequate food or sleep habits) and failure to take preventive health measures (such as medical consultations).
For more information, we invite you to read the Eurocarers’ briefing on “The impact of caregiving on informal carers’ mental and physical health“.