Caregivers Labor Under Major Stress

June 7, 2004 ( - More than one-third (35%) of caregivers who work outside the home and a third of those who are married believe that eldercare responsibilities have impacted their job performance and relationships with their spouses.

A new survey by SeniorBridge Family, a home-based eldercare service provider, found that caregivers spend an average of 10 hours per week coordinating or actively providing care. The poll covered men and women who care for an aging, parent, friend or relative at home or in an independent living facility.

But that doesn’t mean the caregivers are comfortable with the status quo. Some 48% lack confidence in the quality of their arrangements while an even higher percentage (64%) is dissatisfied or only marginally satisfied with the convenience of these arrangements. By comparison, only 29% of the survey respondents who rely on outside childcare services fret about the quality of their children’s care, and only 35% are dissatisfied with the convenience of these services.

“Most caregivers are time-starved and overwhelmed by the complexity of their caregiving responsibilities,” Larry Sosnow, Chief Executive Officer of SeniorBridge Family, in a news release. “Fully 80% of the survey respondents work full-time outside the home and are juggling eldercare, childcare and job responsibilities. At the same time, many are caring for patients with increasingly serious physical and cognitive impairments – conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease and debilitating arthritis, which are on the rise due to longer life expectancies.”

While those for whom the care is provided get an average 16 to 20 hours of care from all caregivers combined – paid and unpaid – nearly half (46%) of the men and women surveyed believe that there are additional hours of care that are still lacking. One in ten estimate that care recipients need – but are not receiving – more than 30 hours of additional care per week.

Nutritional Impact

Perhaps as a result of this shortfall, nearly half (44%) of the respondents report that care recipients have missed meals or suffered from poor nutrition, while an additional one-third (32%) have visited an emergency room or sustained injuries from an accident. Another 22% have been alone at home when an emergency occurred.

“As the time demands and costs associated with eldercare escalate, many caregivers feel they have no choice than but to cut back on care and supervision,” Sosnow said “The result, unfortunately, is a sharp increase in nutritional problems, injuries and drug noncompliance. All too often, there is no care coordinator in place who is responsible for ensuring a comprehensive and consistent level of caregiving.”

Much of that care involves helping manage prescription drugs. Nearly half (43%) of the caregivers surveyed report that their patients take five or more prescriptions daily and 12% report daily regimens of nine or more drugs. More than one-third (37%) of caregivers say the person for whom they care has under-medicated themselves or forgotten to take medication during the past year.

The SeniorBridge Family Caregiver Study was conducted during April 2004 and covered 514 adult caregivers across the U.S. who currently spend (or recently spent) more than two hours per week caring for an aging friend or relative and have total annual household income of at least $100,000.

For more information about SeniorBridge go to .