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AARP survey: Oregon family caregivers face stress


Nearly half of Oregon voters age 40 and older have experience as a family caregiver and three in five believe they will be a caregiver in the future, according to a new survey by AARP that provides a profile of caregivers in Oregon.

Joyce DeMonnin , communications director for AARP Oregon, says people help out loved ones in many different ways, such as running errands and other tasks, and they often don’t think of themselves as caregivers.

But, as the survey illustrates, they can feel stress in their role.

” Caregivers have many, multiple stressors, including just the stress of managing someone else’s life and your own, and difficulties getting enough rest, exercise, eating healthy, ” DeMonnin points out. ” And all of that stuff leads to caregivers often having their own health issues. ”

More than seven in 10 caregivers say they have felt stressed out emotionally.

The survey finds the typical family caregiver is a woman in her 60s caring for a parent in his or her 80s.

Rural Oregonians face an additional challenge: more than half of rural caregivers say it takes more than 45 minutes to get their loved one to a doctor, compared with only 17 percent of urban caregivers.

Elaine Friesen-Strang , volunteer state president of AARP Oregon, left the job market at 58 to care for her father in the last few weeks of his life. She’s thankful for the time she got with her father but notes there were consequences.

” Reduced Social Security benefits, loss of health care coverage, ” she relates. ” It means that it’s harder to get into the job market once you are in your 60s.

” So I wouldn’t have made a different decision. It’s not that it didn’t have some long-term negative impacts for me personally. ”

Friesen-Strang and AARP Oregon are supporting House Bill 3031, which would establish paid family and medical leave.

Friesen-Strang says the bill would make it so that people don’t have to leave their job to care for someone in their lives.

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing Monday.

More than eight in 10 survey respondents also support providing respite so that caregivers can get a break from their duties.

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