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Caring for a Spouse is more Stressful than Caring for Parents, Poll Reveals

Update Date: May 19, 2014 02:06 PM EDT

The role of a caretaker can be stressful, time-consuming and draining. However, due to financial limits, many American adults are becoming caretakers, whether it is for their parents or their spouse. In a new poll, researchers aimed to uncover how caretakers feel about their newly acquired position. The poll results revealed that people feel more stress when they care for their spouse as opposed to their parents and when it comes to parents, people find the task more rewarding.

The poll was conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research between March 13 and April 2013. The poll reached a nationally representative group of 1,418 people. The researchers found that American adults aged 40 or older were more likely to be caring for a sick mother as opposed to a sick father. 40 percent of the people polled were providing some kind of long-term care for their ailing mother whereas only 17 percent did the same for their father.

The researchers discovered that 83 percent of the people who cared for a parent stated that it was a rewarding experience. 80 percent felt that caretaking strengthened their relationship with the care recipient.

When the poll examined adults who cared for a spouse, the results were quite different. The report calculated that over 60 percent of the caretakers stated that the role created a lot of stress within the family. Only 55 percent of the adults who cared for a parent reported feeling the same way. Half of the adults who cared for their spouse stated that the their personal finances suffered greatly whereas only 20 to 30 percent of the adults who cared for a parent reported the same financial strain from caretaking.

"Your relationship changes. Life as you know it becomes different," said Raymond Collins, 62, of Houston, TX reported by FOX News. Collins retired early to care for his wife who has multiple sclerosis. "The traditional vows are through sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, etc. At the age of 25 and 32, you say those things and you're high on love and healthy, and life is all in front of you. The meanings of those words are pretty much lost, even when you concentrate on them."

The report, "Long-Term Care in America: Expectations and Reality," can be found here.

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