Wednesday, August 23, 2017
New research shows that nearly all unpaid caregivers suffer from some form of chronic pain. While the issue of long term pain and the resulting risk of injury for informal caregivers certainly isn't a new one, the study shows just how prevalent this problem has become. According to this research, 94% of unpaid caregivers experience chronic pain that affects the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and bones. The vast majority of study respondents complained of lasting lower back pain (76%), while knee, wrist and shoulder pain were also cited as frequent areas of concern. Perhaps most troubling is the impact chronic pain is having on caregivers and care recipients alike. Over 78% of informal caregivers said that chronic pain has adversely affected their ability to provide care. As a result, 66% also said their overall quality of life has suffered. The research study points out that the complaints of chronic pain from an estimated 42.1 million unpaid caregivers actually mirrors what is reported by professional caregivers. However, informal caregivers often times do not have access to the training and resources available to their professional counterparts. Informal caregivers provide almost half a trillion dollars’ worth of support to individuals with disabilities each year. These caregivers - usually family members - often perform physically-demanding tasks with little or no training, which can result in muscle strains and chronic pain. With very little data on the physical impact of informal caregiving, new research is identifying which tasks caregivers say are the most physically demanding and where they experience the most body pain. The good news is that the results of this study are being used to identify tasks and situations that may be considered "high risk". The hope is that in the coming years, protocol developed using this research will help lower the risk of chronic pain and injury among caregivers of all types.