Caring for relatives makes you sick yourself

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According to a study, relatives who care for the needy at home are often themselves affected by mental and physical illnesses.

According to a study, relatives who care for close people are sick much more often than others. Nurses therefore have to go to medical treatment much more often and are also given medication much more often and additionally prescribed cures. Above all, the mental stress is enormous.

Those who care for those in need of care at home have to go to medical treatment much more often. The fact of caring for a close person day and night means a great deal of physical and psychological stress for most people. The enormous pressure that arises from this causes nurses to become ill more often on average. This was the result of a study by the Siemens company health insurance. Those affected suffer primarily from mental illnesses such as depression or the fatigue syndrome "burn-out". One in six relatives who care for themselves are affected by this.

Additional expenditure for health insurance companies During the course of the study, patient data from around 700 caring relatives aged 31 to 60 years of life were evaluated. Around 51 percent of those affected are significantly more affected by chronic or more serious illnesses than people who do no domestic care. According to the Siemens BKK, the additional expenditure of the health insurance companies is 18 percent higher than the average.

Physical stress creates discomfort
In addition to the psychological effects, physical illnesses and complaints also play a major role. The physical stress of lifting, turning and carrying the patient causes symptoms such as back pain, flank pain and abdominal pain. Back pain, circulatory problems and flu infections are the most common diagnoses. "However, that is the smaller part. The far bigger problem is mental stress, ”said Franz Billinger from Siemens BKK.

Depression and mental suffering
The study revealed that about 17 percent of relatives suffer from depressive episodes or manifested depression. The proportion of depression is about three and a half times that of “normal” health insurers. According to the study data, relatives find it difficult to care for mentally disabled or cognitively impaired people. The psychological stress and the little recognition for their human actions make the caregivers hard. Dealing with dementia or Alzheimer's patients is particularly serious. For many, this means a high emotional burden, says nursing expert Claudia Brinner from the charity Caritas. The helpers increasingly find themselves in social isolation due to their difficult task. There is hardly any help or exchange with other people. The support and counseling services for those affected are still very poor.

2.4 million people are in need of care
According to the latest estimates by the Federal Statistical Office, around 2.4 million people in Germany are currently in need of care. By 2020, the number will increase by around 500,000 to 2.91 million people in need of care. The proportion of people in need of care will increase to around 6 percent of the German population by 2050. About two thirds of those affected are cared for at home by their partner, friends or family. Due to demographic change, diseases such as dementia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's will increase steadily. (sb)

Also read:
Hartz-IV: higher ALG II entitlement for care
Nursing services more deductible
Premium increase in long-term care insurance expected

Image: Rainer Sturm /

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