The number of informal caregivers who look after older adults with cancer is on the rise. Caregivers could be relatives, partners, or even friends who provide assistance to people in order to help them function. Most older people with cancer live at home and are dependent on informal caregivers for support with their cancer treatment, symptom management, and daily activities. Care giving itself can also take a toll on a caregiver’s own physical and emotional well-being; which makes it important to ensure the proper supports are in place.
Until now, no large study is evaluate whether or not caring for older adults with advance cancer is link to caregivers’ emotional health or to their quality of life. Recently; researchers study a group of adults age 70 or older who had advance cancer (as well as other challenges). This study used information from older patients with advance cancer and their caregivers from local oncology practices enrolled in the “Improving Communication in Older Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers.
“study conducted through the University of Rochester National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program Research Base between October 2014 and April 2017. Results from the study are publish in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The researchers learn that the health problems of older patients with cancer are link to a poorer quality of life for their caregivers; including poorer emotional health.
Levels of caregiver distress
This fact is confirm by many other studies, which show that caregivers may even experience more emotional health challenges (such as anxiety, depression, and distress) than the people they care for, the researchers add. What’s more; poorer patient health (measured by a geriatric assessment) is also associate with higher levels of caregiver distress.
The average caregiver in the study is 66 years old, though 49% of the caregivers are age 70 or older. The majority of caregivers are female and white (non-Hispanic), and 67%were the patient’s spouse or partner who live with them. Close to 40% of the caregivers had serious chronic illnesses of their own. Nearly half (43.5%) said they experience moderate to high distress, 19% report having symptoms of depression, and 24% were anxious.
Interestingly, older caregiver experienced less anxiety and depression and better mental health; said the researchers. However, they were in poorer physical health. Being female was associated with experiencing less distress. An income of more than $50,000 a year also was linked to having better physical and mental health.