Caregivers at Higher Risk for Heart Disease

Leading in-home senior care provider offers tips for caregivers during Heart Health Month

Feb 01, 2013, 08:00 ET from Senior Helpers

BALTIMORE, Feb. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- February is American Heart Health Month and Senior Helpers, a leading national in-home care provider, is spreading awareness about the prevalence of heart disease among caregivers who are caring for aging parents and grandparents. While many are focused on the elderly as their risk increases for heart disease with age, Senior Helpers wants to remind caregivers to take care of themselves as well.

In their roles assisting in the daily lives of elderly family members—which can include feeding, bathing, dressing and chauffeuring on errands and doctor's appointments—caregivers often experience a considerable amount of stress that can have a negative impact on their own well-being. Studies show that caregivers are at risk for emotional and physical health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease. Caregivers in general are more likely to experience increased stress than non-caregivers, particularly those who care for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.

"Eight out of ten caregivers of people with dementia are more likely than other caregivers to perceive that they are very stressed in their caregiving role," said Teepa Snow, Senior Helpers' Alzheimer's and dementia expert. "These caregivers have a 60 percent higher mortality risk than their peers and are more likely to have less effective immune systems resulting in more illnesses, fatigue, and a lowered stress threshold."

Key Facts about Caregivers and Heart Disease

  • Caregivers are less likely to eat a heart-healthy diet and engage in moderate exercise when they report feeling overwhelmed and burdened by sleep disturbances and time demands. (American Journal of Health Promotion)
  • Caregivers exhibit exaggerated cardiovascular responses to stressful conditions, putting them at greater risk than non-caregivers for the development of cardiovascular syndromes such as high blood pressure or heart disease. (American Journal of Preventive Medicine)
  • Caregivers should be engaged in pleasurable leisure activities in order to protect themselves from depression, stress and cardiovascular disease. (Health Psychology)

"Caregivers often neglect their health as a result of the high demands of caregiving. They often worry about providing the right amount of care for their loved one and experience increased stress trying to fit in time for themselves," said Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers. "Fortunately, there are ways in which caregivers can reduce the stress in their lives and therefore, lower their own risk of heart disease."

In the United States, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, with one in every three deaths being attributed to heart disease and stroke. There are a number of factors that increase the risk of heart disease such as high cholesterol, smoking, uncontrolled hypertension, physical inactivity, obesity and uncontrolled stress.

About Senior Helpers:

Senior Helpers connects professional caregivers with seniors who wish to live at home as opposed to a nursing or assisted living facility. The company has nearly 300 franchises in 40 states and one in Canada offering a wide range of personal and companion care services to assist seniors living independently with a strong focus on quality of life for the client and peace of mind for their families. Senior Helpers strives to be the leading companion and personal care provider that offers dependable, consistent and affordable home care.

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SOURCE Senior Helpers