Rachel Carson, owner of Home Instead Senior Care, says she sees them every day: people who neglect their own health while serving as caregivers for others.
"They don't eat properly, exercise properly or get enough sleep," said Carson, who is also a certified senior adviser. "They don't take the time to see a doctor."
The physical and emotional toll of providing care for an aging or disabled relative can lead to health complications for the caregivers themselves, according to a growing body of research.
The National Center on Caregiving says people who provide care to family members -- which amounts to nearly one in three Americans -- are more likely to report suffering from depression, diabetes, hypertension or pulmonary disease.
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To raise awareness about the risks providing care to relatives can cause, the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Savannah, Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head recently launched the Family Caregiver Stress Relief program online at www.familycaregiverstressrelief.com.
The program includes online tools and assessments designed to help family members recognize their responsibilities as caregivers and determine if they are at risk for health problems. It also provides a list of resources that can help.
Claire Glasson of the Lowcountry Council of Government's Area Agency on Aging said some of the health risks can be avoided if the caregiver simple takes time to rest and relax.
The agency also has a program to offer caregivers respite called Family Caregiver Support, which provides small grants to caregivers so they can hire someone to care for their loved one while they take a break, Glasson said.
Glasson recently got a call from one of the program's participants who was able to take a three-day vacation because of the "mini-grant." It "truly made a huge difference in her outlook and attitude," Glasson said.
Carson likened the challenges caregivers face to the safety presentations on an airline, in which passengers are told to put on their own oxygen masks before helping others with theirs.
"You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else," Carson said.
Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/IPBG_Allison.