Most tension for caregivers of stroke survivors comes from family, friends

Sep 30, 2010 By Erin White

(PhysOrg.com) -- The biggest cause of stress for people who care for loved ones after a stroke may not be worrying about the affected family member.

Rather, surprising new research from Northwestern Medicine shows that a lack of understanding and help from friends and relatives causes the most stress and the greatest threat to a ’s own health and well-being.

These and other , like simply trying to take care of themselves and their families along with the demands of caregiving can cause caregivers to report signs of anxiety and depression.

The findings will be presented at the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses annual educational conference Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 in Orlando, FL.

The study of 58 caregivers of , identified 15 types of common problems caregivers face. The most stressful problems concerned friends and who criticize, ignore or don’t help caregivers.

“Often families aren’t really understanding, or families might blame a caregiver for not doing more than they’re doing,” said Rosemarie King, the study’s lead investigator and research professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We had one caregiver in our study ask if we could send her a write-up that she could just hand to family members to explain how harassed and stressed caregivers are.”

The next most stressful problem category was the difficulty caregivers experienced in trying to sustain themselves and their families. and changes in their relationship with the stroke survivor also top caregivers’ concerns.

“Caregivers face much anxiety about managing their own finances and taking care of their own emotions during such a difficult time,” King said. “The least stressful area was patient-related problems. Not that those problems aren’t stressful, they were just not as stressful for this group of caregivers.”

The study suggests that these often-overlooked concerns for caregivers are a major source of stress. The results are critical, King noted, because other studies, mostly of Alzheimer’s caregivers, show stress and depression seem to be associated with increased mortality.

King offers a few tips for friends and family that may ease caregiver stress:

• Encourage online or in-person caregiver support groups.
• Invite the caregiver to join you at a social event.
• Ask the caregiver how she is doing and express concern for her well-being.
• Be a sounding board; let the caregiver bounce ideas off of you.
• Stay with the patient for a few hours, so the caregiver can get out of the house.

Offer to help with specific everyday tasks, such as shopping for groceries for the caregiver or bringing prepared meals to the home. 

Explore further: National initiative shows multisystem approaches to reduce diabetes disparities

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?

3 hours ago

Hoping for sex with two women is common but fantasizing about golden showers is not. That's just one of the findings from a research project that scientifically defines sexual deviation for the first time ever. It was undertaken ...

AMA 'Code of Ethics' offers guidance for physicians

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics and other articles provide guidance for physicians in relation to public health emergencies, according to a report from the AMA.

Pot-infused edibles: One toke over the line in Colorado?

13 hours ago

Marijuana shops have sprouted across Denver ever since Colorado legalized the drug for adults in January, but the popularity of pot-infused edibles has surprised authorities, and parents are seeking a ban ahead of Halloween.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.