When the Caregiver Needs Care: the Plight of Vulnerable Caregivers

2002 Mar;92(3):409-13.

When the caregiver needs care: the plight of vulnerable caregivers.

Navaie-Waliser M, Feldman PH, Gould DA, Levine C, Kuerbis AN, Donelan K



This study examined the characteristics, activities, and challenges of high-risk informal caregivers.


Telephone interviews were conducted with a nationally representative cross-section of 1002 informal caregivers. Vulnerable caregivers with poor health or a serious health condition were compared with nonvulnerable caregivers.


Thirty-six percent of caregivers were vulnerable. Compared with nonvulnerable caregivers, vulnerable caregivers were more likely to have difficulty providing care, to provide higher-intensity care, to report that their physical health had suffered since becoming a caregiver, to be aged 65 years or older, to be married, and to have less than 12 years of education.


Reliance on informal caregivers without considering the caregiver‘s ability to provide care can create a stressful and potentially unsafe environment for the caregiver and the care recipient.