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AARP Research

Caregivers: Life Changes and Coping Strategies

The purpose of this study is to better understand how caregiving changes the lives of caregivers, how they manage these changes and how they feel they are doing.

 Most caregivers report things have “stayed the same” for them on these items compared to the way their life was six months before becoming a caregiver. However, overall almost three in ten people (27%) say their life has changed with caregiving, some for better, some for worse. For example, while one in five say their relationship with the person they help has “gotten better,” approximately one in five caregivers say some aspect of their life has “gotten worse” including their: 

  • Happiness (20%) 
  • Satisfaction with social life (20%) 
  • Weight (22%) and, 
  • Exercise routine (22%) 

Caregivers identify few sources of support. Just over half of caregivers say they cope with the difficulties of caregiving through prayer (51%) or seeking support from a partner (51%). Female caregivers are relationship-oriented often relying on an inner circle of friends, siblings, children and medical professionals for support. 

In addition, caregivers often have mixed feelings about how they cope with their caregiving responsibilities. While most are “pleased they can help someone” (82%), they also “wish things were different” (68%). While many are “satisfied” (62%) and “proud” (52%) to be caregivers, they often “feel sorry for the person they help” (51%), are “afraid about what might happen” (44%) or “feel other people should help me more” (38%).

An on-line survey was conducted using GfK Custom Research (Knowledge Networks Knowledge Panel) to obtain responses from 1,036 caregivers between the ages of 40 to 60 years of age in May and June 2013. For more information, contact Linda Barrett at 202-434-6197.

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