The new "female problem" — caregiver stress

By Patricia Grace

Aging with Grace


In the halls of the nation’s businesses, the hushed whispers, which were once reserved for gossip and Monday morning quarterbacking now echo the despair stressed out women are feeling in their role as caregiver.

While men do represent a growing percentage of today’s caregivers, the role is still largely filled by women. In what could be considered the new “female problem” in the workplace, male management does not have the tools to adequately discuss and remedy this female ailment.

Caregiver stress defined
An individual’s face may not readily give away clues that they are suffering from caregiver stress, but a quick look at their employee attendance record will reveal absenteeism due to their work as a caregiver for an aging loved one. The fact that this individual has a higher utilization of the healthcare benefits and increased prescription plan participation for stress-related disorders may also warrant their classification as a caregiver.

Businesses and the overall economy are negatively impacted by caregivers who are emotionally drained by the burden of their role. The financial component of caregiver stress is far more reaching than that individual’s wallet. The trickle down effect of the disorder hurts all of our pockets as it robs employers of nearly $33.6 billion.

Stressed out caregivers are susceptible to a whole host of problems as their immune system becomes compromised under the weight and associated guilt of care giving. Migraine headaches and GI disorders are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact caregiver stress has on individuals. Caregivers overwhelmed by stress are also highly susceptible to depression.

Individuals need to learn to recognize when their caregiving duties are getting the best of them. Identifying community resources that offer services to caregivers and their loved ones can be just the prescription needed to bounce back.