Stress and Vulnerability Due to the Care Task: An Observational Study on Older Caregivers
Maria F. Tartaglini, Paula D. Hermida, Diego Caruso, Carolina Feldberg and Dorina Stefani
Affiliation: Marcelo T. de Alvear 2270, C1122AAJ, Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Republica Argentina.
Keywords: Caregivers, chronic disease, health disturbances, older adults, self perception of health, stress, vulnerability.
As worldwide population ages, an increase of inhabitants who suffer neurodegenerative diseases can be
observed. Considering that the task of caregiving is generally carried out by a family member, he becomes an easy target
for diseases, especially for being subjected to a stressing process.
This study intends to analyze whether the older caregivers’ health suffers affections if compared with the health
conditions of those who do not take care of family members. The present investigation defends the fact that the person
who develops the activity of caregiving has high probabilities of developing diseases.
An observational, analytical, cross sectional study was made. One hundred and twenty four (124) older adults divided in
two groups were cross-examined: 62 interviewees were caregivers of chronic patients and 62 were not. The total amount
of candidates was given two questionnaires: one analyzed socio-demographic data and the other one health disturbances.
The results showed that 48% of the sample experienced unfavorable changes in their health, and that the condition of
being a caregiver somehow predicted the changes (OR 15.) As for the kind of disturbance, it can be said that 85% of the
caregivers went through psychical disturbances; however, there were no significant differences found between the selfperception
of the caregivers and non-caregivers health conditions.
The findings confirm the established hypothesis and coincide with other investigations: the caregiver suffers unfavorable
health effects despite the fact that sometimes he is not aware of those negative consequences experienced. Therefore,
family caregivers are referred to as “hidden patients.” Health services should promote psycho-educational intervention
programs and diagnose for proper pharmacological treatment of depression and anxiety usually with SSRIs according to
co-morbid conditions of the patient.
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