Self-assessment tool helps EJC families avoid dangers of caregiver distress

May 31, 2013 

Nearly one-third of adults living in Eastern Jackson County including Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs, Independence and Raytown are family caregivers who could be at risk for heart disease, diabetes, depression and various other physical and emotional maladies as a result of caregiver distress, a potentially dangerous condition brought on by the pressures of caring for a senior loved one.

Studies increasingly point to caregiving as a leading stressor for families. In fact, one U.S. study revealed that more than half (52.8 percent) of those caring for individuals with diseases including cancer or Alzheimer’s had scores indicating depression.

In response to this growing issue, the local Home Instead Senior Care office has launched a public awareness campaign – Family Caregiver Stress Relief – to help family caregivers determine if they are at risk for distress and to minimize problems before they escalate.

Included in the program are two new tools: the Are You a Caregiver quiz, which is designed to help a family caregiver self-identify and recognize the role of a caregiver, and the Family Caregiver Distress Assessment, adapted for the Home Instead Senior Care network by Dr. Peter Vitaliano of the University of Washington.

The assessment allows caregivers to determine their risk for distress and resulting emotional and physical issues, including depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

“So many spouses and adult children are unaware of their potential risk of caregiver distress because they don’t see themselves as caregivers,” said Michelle Brunell, owner of the local Lee’s Summit Home Instead Senior Care office. “These new resources enable them to understand their role, the stresses they may face as a caregiver, and how that stress might lead to more serious health effects.

“It’s important for caregivers to understand that stress can impact one’s ability to care. If they don’t care for themselves, they may put their senior loved ones at risk. Whether it’s support groups, stress management techniques or respite help, caregivers need to realize the importance of managing their health, too.”

For more information about the services of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Eastern Jackson County including Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs, Independence and Raytown call 816-554-6166 or visit www.homeinstead.com/540.

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