In the next several decades, the number of aging adults is predicted to dramatically increase. Members of the baby boomer generation are in the process of entering their senior years and this means that before long, the number of elderly people will skyrocket. Advances in medical technology and treatment have contributed to this by extending life expectancies. However, just because people will be living longer does not mean that they will be able to maintain their independence. In fact, the number of older adults who will need to be cared for will increase also, placing a huge financial and logistical strain on existing healthcare resources. Many spouses, children, and siblings of aging adults will assume the role of caregivers. But these individuals may also be facing physical and mental issues that come with advanced age.
To get a better idea of the type of burden that caregivers feel today, Victoria Shahly of the Department of health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School conducted a study assessing the various types of pressures and stresses felt by caregivers. By examining these factors in people from different cultures and countries, Shahly hopes to be able to contribute valuable information about caregiving today and the obstacles policy makers, communities and individuals face in the future and how to overcome them. Shahly evaluated over 13,000 surveys from individuals over the age of 50 who were caring for a family member. She asked them about the emotional, financial, and time strains they experienced as a result of taking care of an aging family member with a serious mental or physical condition.
Shahly found that although the majority of the caregivers reported being financially and emotionally strained, the burden was significantly higher for caregivers with lower incomes and those from socioeconomically disadvantaged countries. The lack of health care resources and government assistance could contribute to these results. Also, Shahly found that individuals caring for children or spouses were more emotionally stressed than those caring for siblings or parents. Additionally, women were more vulnerable to the stresses of caregiving than men. These findings underscore the importance of addressing emotional, physical, and financial burdens on older caregivers. Shahly added, “Initiatives supporting older family caregivers are consequently needed, especially in low/lower-middle income countries.”
Shahly, V., et al. (2013). Cross-national differences in the prevalence and correlates of burden among older family caregivers in the World Health Organization World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Psychological Medicine 43.4 (2013): 865-79.ProQuest. Web.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.