Caregiver Health

Basic Facts

Who Is a Caregiver?

A caregiver is anyone who is giving help to someone in need of care, including:

  • Helping with medical care and daily tasks, such as monitoring medications and preparing meals or eating
  • Driving people to appointments
  • Healthcare decision-making
  • Providing emotional support
  • Managing care

Caregiving is Common

  • 14 percent of American adults care for someone age 50 or older
  • 74 percent of caregivers provide care at least once a week
  • 15 percent help two or more adults
  • 25 percent of caregivers say it is hard to find local, affordable services

Caregivers may be helping a spouse who has had a stroke, a father-in-law with dementia, or a grandmother with cancer.

Caregivers include children, adults, and older adults. Sixty percent are women and 40 percent are men. Most caregivers are unpaid family or friends who give care full- or part-time.

Caregiver Stress

A caregiver may experience stress and illness because caring for others can require much work, time and money. Twenty-five percent of caregivers help loved ones for five or more years. 20 percent of caregivers have money problems. In addition, caregivers may neglect their own health.

Signs of caregiver stress may include:

  • Burnout
  • Neglecting their own mental, physical or health needs (self-neglect)
  • Overuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
Use our caregiver health self-assessment to evaluate your own well-being.
Caregiver Questionnaire

Problems are worst for caregivers who provide the most help, assist people with dementia, or who have their own health problems.

Some caregivers have less stress and illness than others. They may enjoy the closeness of caring for loved ones and learn new skills.

Getting Help

Caregivers may need the help of a team of healthcare professionals. These professionals need to understand that caregivers and older adults often act as a unit.  The caregiver partners with the healthcare providers in caring for the older person.

Caregivers need to talk with a healthcare professional about their stress. They may need to do this without the older adult being there. The healthcare provider needs to regularly ask about the caregiver’s health.

Caregivers often benefit from:

  • Talking with their healthcare professional about their stress and needs
  • Timely connections to their healthcare providers
  • Referrals to other providers only when necessary because caregivers often have limited time

Safety for the older adult and the caregiver is important and may need evaluation, including the older adult’s ability to:

  • Live alone
  • Drive, operate machines and use guns
  • Carry out daily tasks
  • Manage any symptoms of dementia
Resources for caregivers often are often outside of the health care system. They may exist in social programs. Supports are available through websites. Take a look at our Directory of Caregiver Health Organizations for helpful information.


Last Updated November 2022

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