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Women as Caregivers (May 9, 2012)

Providing care for others has always been primarily a woman’s role, mostly due to socialization and the resulting expectations that women are “supposed” to care for others. In the U.S. more than 75 percent of caregivers are female between the ages of 35-59. While caring for children is what we think of first, the term “caregiver” is also used to refer to unpaid relatives or friends who help disabled or elderly persons with daily activities. By 2009, more than 65.6 million Americans provided unpaid care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend. Estimated value of their unpaid services: $450 billion. 

Many informal caregivers still have children living at home and may be caring for a dependent adult as well, hence the term “sandwich generation” in which the caregiver is serving double-duty in a multigenerational household.

You are defined as caregiver if you:

Take care of a someone with a chronic illness or disease
Manage medications or talk with healthcare professionals on behalf of another
Help bathe, dress or perform daily activities for that person
Take care of household chores, provide meals or bills for someone who cannot do it themselves

Yet women often ignore their own well-being for financial, physical and emotional reasons. Among the physical impact of providing long-term informal care to others: higher risks of coronary heart disease, elevated blood pressure and hypertension, decreased immune function, slower wound healing, depression and anxiety. A 2009 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving reported that the longer someone worked as a caregiver, the more likely they were to describe their own health as fair or poor.

For more information on free caregiving resources contact the U.S. Administration on Aging,  the Family Caregiver Alliance, or the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP). 

Health Testing Centers understands how important it is for women to take care of themselves first, so that they can continue to care for others. The Female Health Check Level I and Female Health Check Level II screenings provides convenient and comprehensive health testing in an affordable package.  By ordering from caregivers save time and money by not taking an extra trip to the doctor.