A PharmaTimes story revealed that the stress associated with providing unpaid care for a sick or disabled adult is leading to a 29 percent greater use of anti-anxiety medicines among such caregivers, compared those who do not provide such care, according to research from pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) Express Scripts.. An estimated 42 million Americans serve as a caregiver to a relative or friend, and that number will grow significantly as the boomer population ages.
The study noted that “Use of medications to treat conditions for which stress is the common denominator – including high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and ulcers – is higher among caregivers, with the widest difference seen in the use of medicines to treat anxiety.”
The study also reveals that:
- while antidepressants must be taken as prescribed in order to provide a benefit, adherence rates for caregivers who use such medicines are relatively worse than for non-caregivers, at 67% versus 73%, respectively. And across all health conditions, 64% of caregivers are adherent to their medication therapy, compared to 68% of non-caregivers;
- caregivers are more likely to rate themselves in poorer health compared to non-caregivers (15% vs 12%) and as being unhappy (5.3% vs 3.5%);
- only one in five caregivers reside in the same household as the patients in their care, with 52% living within 15 miles of their primary care recipient and another 27% living more than 15 miles away; and
- approximately one-third of all caregivers in the US provide for more than one person, while two-thirds are providing care for a patient, older relative, sibling or friend, as opposed to a spouse or adult child.
Caregiver stress is a serious problem, but one that can be minimized by delegating more responsibility to trained home care aides. If anxiety and stress diminish a caregiver’s ability to provide assistance to a loved one in the home, both parties are at risk.