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Research Highlights Family Caregivers’ Emotional Well-being and Need for Help

Comfort Keepers In-Home Care in Westport, Connecticut.

August 29, 2018    by Dennis Patouhas

Research Highlights Family Caregivers’ Emotional Well-being and Need for Help
Comfort Keepers® of Lower Fairfield County Collaborates on Nationwide Survey

Norwalk, Connecticut August 28, 2018 – As America’s population ages and the number of those with severe health issues increases, a new study has found that family caregivers run the risk of social isolation and depression when they take on the job of caring for a severely ill loved one without help. 

The Stanford Center on Longevity and the Stanford University Psychology Department released the study, Age and Emotional Well-Being: The Varied Emotional Experience of Family Caregivers, on July 17. The study found that the emotional well-being of older adults managing the care of severely ill loved ones is markedly lower than average for their age due to the family caregiver’s inability to engage in social pursuits. 

A provider of in-home care services for seniors and other adults needing care, Comfort Keepers® of Lower Fairfield County and the entire Comfort Keepers network of offices across the United States collaborated with Stanford researchers and the home care services software company Clear Care, to survey 2,000 adults who had hired a Comfort Keepers caregiver to help an ailing relative. The survey asked respondents about their emotional well-being. 

“This research shows the difficulties that family members face when caring for a loved one are significant and can be overwhelming,” said Dennis Patouhas, Owner at Comfort Keepers Lower Fairfield County. “While caring for a senior loved one can be extremely fulfilling, family caregivers still need to take time for themselves and understand that it’s ok to ask for help. There are resources available, like Comfort Keepers, that provide respite care, senior care and in-home care services.”

“A lot of prior research shows that older people generally have a higher emotional well-being than younger people,” said Dr. Tamara Sims, lead researcher at Stanford Center on Longevity. “Surprisingly, among caregivers, we found similar effects –older caregivers felt more positively in their everyday life than younger caregivers. When looking closer, however, older people caring for a relative with a severe illness did not experience that same age-related benefit to well-being –these caregivers looked more like younger adults, emotionally. Only one of several  reasons we examined seems to explain this effect: their social lives suffer more than those with a mildly ill relative.”

Among older adults managing a loved one’s health care, the study discovered that emotional well-being negatively correlates with the severity of the loved one’s illness. Older adults who care for a relative with a mild illness report greater well-being than do younger adults, much like the general population. However, older adults caring for a relative with a severe illness do not experience the typical high levels of emotional well-being compared to other older adults. Therefore, the positive association between age and emotional well-being is present for people whose relative has a mild illness but not for those who have a relative with a severe illness. 

“We are experiencing a massive demographic shift, with more older people than younger for the first time in human history,” said Geoffrey Nudd, CEO of ClearCare. “This fact, in combination with how social well-being correlates to rising health care costs, enables solutions to an imminent crisis. These findings provide us with invaluable insight and implications into how the power of home care can improve lives.”

For more information about Comfort Keepers services in Lower Fairfield County, visit here.

About Comfort Keepers®

For over 25 years, Comfort Keepers® has been Elevating the Human SpiritSM through its in-home care network for seniors and other adults by empowering them to maintain their independence and realize joy in the everyday moments. Comfort Keepers operates a franchise network that has grown to more than 600 locations in the U.S. and Canada, serving hundreds of thousands of clients since 1998. The company’s nationwide network employs thousands of caregivers, also known as “Comfort Keepers”, who deliver joy through interactive caregiving by continually communicating with, involving, and engaging with seniors in everyday tasks and activities. In 2023, Comfort Keepers has been named a Great Place to Work® certified company. For more information, visit ComfortKeepers.com.

Comfort Keepers of Lower Fairfield County has been providing homecare services for over 16 years. As one of the oldest agencies in the area we have helped hundreds of families with elder care for their loved ones. Our service area covers Greenwich to Fairfield and includes such towns as Stamford and Westport. Call us at (203) 924-4949.