It’s hard to know what’s more difficult sometimes – living with a chronic, debilitating disease, or living with the person who has it. Caregivers, many of whom are family members, and most of whom are women, grow ill themselves at alarming rates. Arizona State University researcher David Coon has labeled these caregivers, the “hidden patient.” Lesley Wright of the Arizona Republic profiles one such patient and the efforts of Coon to help those like her through pilot workshops that teach awareness and coping skills about “caregiver syndrome.”
“Caregivers tend to die sooner than others from stress-related illnesses, sometimes before the person they are caring for has passed away,” Wright reports. They fall prey to high blood pressure, diabetes, a compromised immune system, heart attacks, and arthritis. More than two-thirds of caregivers are women.