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Caring for relatives is a health hazard

Caring for relatives is a health hazard


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Are there disadvantages in caring for other people?

Caring for other people appears to be socio-economically disadvantaged and at higher risk of deteriorating mental and physical health. This finding is important as our life expectancy increases, which means that more and more people in old age need some form of care.

The University of Southampton's latest study found inequalities that face men and women over fifty who are responsible for caring for other people. The results were published in the English-language journal "European Journal of Public Health".

Share of older people is increasing

Life expectancy in Europe is increasing, which, combined with falling birth rates, is changing society. The proportion of older people continues to increase in relation to people of working age. An aging population increases the demand for care.

Effects of nursing responsibility

New research from the University of Southampton has shown inequalities that face men and women over fifty who have caring responsibilities for other people. Carers in this age group are not only more socio-economically disadvantaged, they are also more likely to have mental and physical health problems than people who do not care.

Data from more than 8,000 people were evaluated

The research group analyzed the results of over 8,000 men and women who participated in the Health and Employment after Fifty (HEAF) study by the University’s Medical Research Council.

Many people have some form of care responsibility

The results of the study show that almost a fifth of men and over a quarter of women reported some form of care responsibility. People who provided the highest level of care were more disadvantaged in terms of both social and educational level than those who had no care responsibilities. It was found that people working in care were more likely to be unemployed or retired. Working supervisors were also more likely to work part-time or in shifts.

Health effects on carers

When looking at health outcomes among caregivers, the team found that those who cared for more than 20 hours a week were more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and suffer from muscle and skeletal pain, depression, and sleep problems .

Carers need better support

The study shed new light on the disadvantages that people who have to take care of their friends or family members face, as well as the significant effects of care on their own health and work capacity. Many people have to give up their jobs in the course of their lives, for example to care for relatives. It is crucial to ensure that carers have adequate support. This ensures that these people stay healthy and productive and ultimately do not need nursing care themselves. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Swell:

  • E Clare Harris, Stefania D'Angelo, Holly E Syddall, Cathy Linaker, Cyrus Cooper, Karen Walker-Bone: Relationships between informal caregiving, health and work in the Health and Employment After Fifty study, England, in European Journal of Public Health ( Published June 3, 2020), European Journal of Public Health



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