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According to a new survey commissioned by Humana, almost half of all baby boomers say tending to their own health and well-being comes second to caring for the health needs of loved ones.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. baby boomers, ranging in age from 45 to

64, measured the considerable impact on them of caring for parents and other family members. Today in the U.S. there are 52 million caregivers. While 81 percent of the baby boomers surveyed feel appreciated for providing such care, the vast majority also feel stressed and exhausted; more than one in three of those surveyed say they often feel helpless.

Boomers assess sacrifices they make as caregivers

The study also revealed that many baby boomers are making considerable sacrifices to care for aging parents:

  • 63 percent surveyed have devoted less time to hobbies and personal interests.
  • 46 percent have given up social activities.
  • 43 percent have skipped a vacation.
  • 36 percent have dipped into personal savings.

Experts say this type of self-neglect can have damaging consequences for the individual caregivers. There are multiple components to well-being: physical, emotional, social and financial components. If any one of these is neglected, overall health and well-being can suffer.

Weakened Economy’s Impact on Boomers

The recession and difficult economy have affected all Americans, with 80 percent of baby boomers surveyed indicating they have changed their retirement expectations, with 44 percent of boomers expecting to work longer. Investments in stocks and bonds by boomers lost, on average, 16 percent of their value over 2007 to 2008, according a recent study by Mercer.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents say they’re concerned about the cost of living during retirement, up from 52 percent in a similar 2007 survey. Overall, financial stress is highest among boomers when it comes to being prepared for anticipated future health care costs. Sixty-five percent say they’re stressed about such future costs, with the vast majority of that group expressing extreme anxiety.

Also according to the survey:

  • 23 percent of boomers have been caregivers for more than 10 years
  • 12 percent for 6-8 years
  • 24 percent for 3-5 years, and
  • 31 percent for zero to two years

More information on the survey can be found at http://www.humana.com.

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