Eight in Ten Caregivers Say They Should Be Taking Better Care of their own Health
Majority Unaware that Diabetes and High Blood Pressure Are the Leading Causes of Kidney Disease, including those Suffering from These Conditions
Friday, September 23, 2011
New York, NY – Though 86% caregivers say that they like to stay informed about health issues because they are concerned for the health and well-being of a loved one, many are lacking critical information about kidney disease, according to a survey of 1,000 caregivers ages 35 to 65 conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the American Kidney Fund. Half of caregivers – defined as those who take care of or provide assistance to family members, friends, or other loved ones when they are sick or have special medical needs – are often asked for their advice on health and well-being by friends and loved ones (50%), yet majorities are unaware of the leading causes of kidney disease.
Caregivers tend to believe that they take good care of their own health (78%), yet just as many say that they should be doing more (80%). While three-quarters of caregivers have had a physical health exam in the past twelve months, a quarter (24%) say that they have not, and 1% can’t remember.
- Caregivers ages 35-44 were among the least likely to have had a physical exam in the past year include (67%), while those aged 55 to 65 were among the most likely to do so (82%).
On average, these caregivers spend only about 3.5 hours per week engaging in moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking. A majority (52%) report that they spend less than the recommended two hours per week exercising, including 16% who say that they spend no time engaging in physical activity. However, nearly half (48%) say that they typically get at least three hours of exercise per week, including one in ten (9%) who spend at least 7 hours per week doing so.
- Those most likely to spend less than the recommended two and half hours per week exercising include caregivers with a household income of less than $50,000 (61%) and those living in rural areas (60%). Additionally, a third of those who feel that they do not take good care of their health (33%) report that they do not spend any time engaging in moderate-intensity exercise.
Though many caregivers say that they are not getting enough exercise, some seem to be making an effort to eat a healthy diet. Nine in ten (92%) say that they try to consume at least two or three healthy meals per week. Additionally, three quarters (76%) report that most of their meals include fruits or vegetables. A similar proportion (74%) report that they usually eat healthy foods when they are with a friend, loved one, or partner.
At the same time, nearly half say that they do not have the time to prepare healthy meals every day (45%), and that they snack on “junk food” several times per week (48%).
Over nine in ten caregivers say that they are concerned about the health of their loved ones (94%). Likewise, a similar proportion reports that because they are concerned for the health and well-being of a loved one, they are familiar with their health issues (91%), and that they like to stay informed about health issues (86%). In fact, half (50%) say that friends and loved ones often ask for their advice about health and well-being.
While 78% of caregivers feel that they take good care of their own health, many seem to feel that there is room for improvement, as 80% say that they should be taking better care of their health. Additionally, six in ten (59%) wish their significant other would take better care of his/her health.
- Caregivers 45 and older are more like than those ages 35 to 44 to feel that they take good care of their own health (81% vs. 71%).
- Women are also more likely than men to feel that they take good care of their health (81% vs. 75%), as well as to say that loved ones turn to them for health advice (58% vs. 40%).
Among the three quarters of caregivers who do not strongly believe that they take good care of their health (77%), there are a variety of barriers that keep them from doing so. Nearly half (48%) say that they do not have enough money to do so, while roughly two in five say that they are lacking time (37%) or access to the health information so they can learn how to take better care of their health (39%).
Still, most of them realize that not taking care of their health is dangerous, as 85% are concerned that not taking care of their health will put them at risk for disease. One way to possibly overcome these barriers is to partner up with a loved one, as 69% say that they would be more inclined to take better care of their health if they paired up with someone in order to encourage healthy habits.
Among all caregivers, there are a number of strong motivators to take better care of their health. Over nine in ten agree that they want to take better care of their health for a variety of reasons:
- To be there for their family (97% agree, including 69% strongly)
- To feel better (97% agree, including 68% strongly)
- To live longer (95% agree, including 64% strongly)
- To be more active (95% agree, including 63% strongly)
Those who have a loved one who suffers from diabetes or high blood pressure are more likely than those who do not to say that each of these factors encourages them to want to take better care of their health. For example, 73% of those who have a loved one suffering from diabetes or high blood pressure agree that they wanted to take better care of their health so that they can be there for their family, compared to 56% of caregivers who do not have a loved one suffering from these conditions.
Though 85% of caregivers say that they like to stay informed about health issues because they are concerned for the health and well-being of a loved one, many are unaware of the leading causes of kidney disease. Just 31% volunteered diabetes as a leading cause, and even fewer named high blood pressure (15%). Other top causes that were mentioned include alcohol abuse, cited by 34%, poor diet (18%), genetic disposition (18%) and dehydration (13%).
- Among those who have a loved one who suffers from either diabetes (55% of all caregivers) or high blood pressure (74%), only 32% name diabetes and 16% named high blood pressure as a leading cause of kidney disease.
- Similarly, few caregivers who suffer from diabetes (9%) or high blood pressure (28%) themselves recognized that these conditions are risk factors for kidney disease; diabetes was cited by 35% while high blood pressure was cited by 18%.
However, those who suffer from these conditions do believe that they are at higher risk for kidney disease. Eighty-five percent of diabetes sufferers and 67% of those with high blood pressure believe that they are at higher risk. However, only 22% of caregivers with diabetes and/or high blood pressure report that their doctor told them that they are at higher risk for kidney disease because of these conditions. Two-thirds (67%) say that they can’t recall their doctor telling them this, and 11% are unsure.
Three-quarters (79%) of caregivers with diabetes and/or high blood pressure agree that a simple test can check how well their kidneys are working. However, only half (51%) report that their doctor has tested how well their kidneys are working. A quarter (27%) say that, as far as they know, their doctor has not run this test, and a similar proportion (22%) are unsure.
Though many caregivers are ill-informed about the leading causes of kidney disease, eight in ten (80%) believe that it can often be prevented, including 23% who strongly agree. However, 5% do not believe this to be the case, and an additional 15% are unsure.
Many are also unfamiliar with leading organizations that focus on kidney disease. The National Kidney Foundation is best known, with 63% of caregivers saying that they have heard of this organization, followed by the American Kidney Fund (39%). Fewer are aware of the American Association of Kidney Patients (28%), the PKD Foundation (27%), and the Kidney Trust (20%).
- Those who personally suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure or who have a loved one with one of these conditions are no more likely than caregivers in general to have heard of these organizations.
After learning that diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease, caregivers say that they are likely to take a variety of actions. Over eight in ten say that they are likely to encourage their loved ones with diabetes or high blood pressure to get a health check-up (86%) and encourage them to learn more about their risks for kidney disease (84%).
Similarly, two-thirds (67%) say that they want to learn more about kidney disease themselves, and are likely to turn to a variety of resources. Six in ten are likely to look online for more information about kidney disease (62%) or talk to their doctor about it (61%). Additionally, a third (34%) say that they are likely to contact an organization like the American Kidney Fund for more information.
Those who personally suffer from diabetes and/or high blood pressure are even more likely to take these actions:
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Beyond learning more about the condition, almost three-quarters (73%) report that they plan to make changes to their health habits to help prevent kidney disease.
- Those most likely to plan on making these lifestyle changes include female caregivers (76%), those aged 55 to 65 (79%), and those who have diabetes and/or high blood pressure (85%).
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted July 20 – 29, 2011. For the survey, a national sample of 1,000 caregivers ages 35-65 (one who takes care of or provides assistance to family members, friends, or other loved ones when they are sick or have special medical needs) were interviewed online. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire population of caregivers ages 35-65 in the United States had been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
For more information on this news release, please contact:
Senior Research Manager
Ipsos Public Affairs
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