At least one third of U.S. adults provide unpaid, informal care for an elderly, ill, or disabled family member or friend in the home. As the population ages, informal caregiving will continue to rise.
While caregiving can help strengthen connections with a close friend or loved one, it can also be overwhelming. Many caregivers hold down a full-time job, and typically receive very little training for the additional responsibility. It’s not surprising, therefore, that informal caregiving has been linked to long-term health problems — including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and excess weight— for caregivers. Those who provide informal care for loved ones with dementia or a terminal illness face added risks, such as depression, anxiety, and/or memory problems.
Many times caregivers operate under the assumption that their first priority is the person they’re caring for; however, not taking proper care of themselves can leave caregivers unable to effectively look after anyone else.
Fortunately, there are a number of strategies that can help alleviate the challenges and potential health risks of informal caregiving.
If you have medical coverage through the Board of Pensions, you can access resources through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)* to help balance work and life needs. From articles and e-learning, to checklists and seminars, caregivers will find support and useful information for a variety of situations and concerns.
To access these resources, visit myCigna.com and log in, then select Coverage and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Under About Cigna’s EAP Services, click on the Work/Life Resources link. Then, select the Aging tab, and choose Caregivers.
*The EAP is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.