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Study: caregiving and depression often go hand in hand

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A recent small study of women who work full-time while caring for an elderly family member found a link between unpaid caregiving and depression.

The study at Case Western Reserve University, published in Women's Health Issues, looked at the caregiving experiences of 46 middle aged women. Lead researcher Evanne Juratovac says they identified a clear link between workload and well-being.

"While several of the women reported overall good health, the severity of depression suggests that these caregivers' mental health is in jeopardy," Juratovac says.

The study points to a critical need for more research as the Baby Boomer generation ages longer and more elderly people are expected to need care.

Managing My caregiving

An estimated 42 percent of working Americans say they've provided care for an older family member within the past five years, according to AARP.

And 2009 numbers from the National Alliance for Caregiving show that at least 36.5 million households – that’s more than three in ten U.S. households – report having at least one person working as an unpaid family caregiver.

More facts about caregiving:

– Most caregivers are are women.
– One- third care for two or more people.
– Alzheimer's or dementia is the main problem for which caregivers' loved ones need care.

Minnesota last year enacted a law allowing people to use sick leave from work in order to provide care for a parent, grandparent, stepparent, spouse, sibling or child of any age. The law previously allowed employees to use sick leave only for themselves or to care for dependent minor children.

Find out more about Minnesota’s caregiving leave law.

Watch a video from AARP about caregiver rights:

Here are a few more tips from UnitedHealthcare’s caregiver support site:

– Make a Medication List.
– Review Health Care Coverage.
– Schedule regular calls with doctors and other caregivers.
– Consider Contacting a Program That Can Help.

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