NJ Senior Care Blog

3 Critical Ways Caring for An Older Loved One Negatively Impacts Family Caregivers


In a study from 2015, approximately 40 million Americans provided unpaid (informal) care to an adult aged 65 or older. Seventeen percent of these caregivers were 65 or older themselves. A large number of them were providing care for a person with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia. On average, these family caregivers provided 24 hours of unpaid labor per week.

Caring for an older loved one can be a rich and rewarding experience. It can also present struggles that caregivers aren’t prepared for. Physical exhaustion, financial issues, and poor mental health outcomes are just a few of the negative side effects experienced by unpaid family caregivers. These individuals are more likely to experience depression, loss of job opportunities, and physical ailments than their non-caregiver peers.

While these struggles have flown under the radar in recent years, more research is surfacing on the true statistical impact of unpaid caregiving.Today, we’re examining some of those effects. 

Impact on Physical Health 

Caring for a frail or disabled older adult can be extremely physically demanding. Many caregivers must lift and move their loved one throughout the day. They also may provide other physically demanding services like cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry. After providing extensive physical care for others, many of these individuals are too tired to focus on their own physical health. They lack the energy to exercise, eat nutritious meals, or practice self-care. 

As a result, many family caregivers report that their physical health has gotten worse since taking on caregiving duties. The number of caregivers who report poor physical health increases the longer they provide care. A caregiver who has provided five years of unpaid care is more likely to report poor physical health than a caregiver who has provided only one year of care. Caregivers who maintain a full-time job in addition to caregiving are also more likely to report poor physical health. 

Impact On Mental Health

Many unpaid caregivers experience mental and emotional strain. The condition of the person they are caring for is one of the biggest factors in mental health outcomes for an unpaid caregiver. For example, an individual providing care for a person with dementia is more likely to report mental and emotional strain than one who is not.  Additionally, caregivers who live with their care recipient report higher levels of stress and less satisfaction in their caregiving role. 

Factors associated with higher levels of depression in unpaid caregivers:

  • Being younger
  •  Being female
  •  Providing more than 20 hours of care per week
  •  Providing care for an elderly person with cognitive impairments
  •  Inability to take part in personal hobbies or recreation
  •  Pre-existing physical ailments

Impact On Financial Health

A recent study showed that unpaid caregivers will lose $147 billion in wages by 2050. Many unpaid caregivers are forced to cut back their hours at work or take unpaid leave in order to accommodate an aging loved one’s care needs. Others dig into their savings or sell their homes to pay for care-related necessities. Additionally, there are high out-of-pocket costs associated with unpaid caregiving. Some studies show that 68% of unpaid caregivers also provide financial support to their aging loved one.

How Can In-Home Senior Care Services Help?

Many unpaid family caregivers are vulnerable to burnout, depression, and poor physical health. A professional in-home caregiver can give these family caregivers the break they need to relax, unwind, and de-stress. Hiring a professional home care service for just two days a week, for example, can create a more manageable caregiving obligation for family members. Taking care of yourself will ultimately benefit your older loved one, as a result.

Are you providing daily care for an older loved one? Visiting Angels has in-home care options that can help. Check out our reviews to read how we have helped other families like yours. 

Contact Visiting Angels today with your questions about senior home care in Mercer or Burlington County, NJ. 

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.