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<p>(BPT) - Approximately 42 million Americans provide unpaid care to an ill or disabled adult and new research shows the stress associated with this responsibility can have a negative effect on a person&rsquo;s health.</p><p>Express Scripts research paired an analysis of prescription claims with a telephone survey of more than 12,000 commercially-insured Americans ages 18 to 65, and discovered use of medications to treat stress-related conditions, including high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and ulcers, is higher among caregivers. In fact, the use of anti-anxiety medications is 29 percent greater with caregivers compared to non-caregivers.</p><p>&ldquo;As a member of the &lsquo;sandwich generation&rsquo; I know first-hand how hard it can be to care for everyone who needs you, including yourself,&rdquo; says Paul Reyes, Express Scripts&rsquo; pharmacist and host of the Ask the Pharmacist radio series. &ldquo;But if your role as a caregiver negatively impacts your own health, no one benefits.&rdquo;</p><p>Caregivers are the unsung heroes of our healthcare system, helping many people live with dignity within their community. With the demand for caregivers expected to increase as <a href="http://www.drugtrendreport.com/medicare/medicare-quarterly-spotlight" rel="nofollow">baby boomers</a> reach age 65 (the 65+ age group is expected to top 70 million in 2030), it&rsquo;s important that caregivers know how to prevent their important role from deteriorating their own health.</p><p>Reyes offers these tips for caregivers to keep their health on track:</p><p>* Practice healthy habits: Daily exercise and a good night&rsquo;s sleep can reduce stress and improve health. Those with a busy lifestyle can start small by building in five to 10 minutes of physical activity into their day and going to bed a few minutes earlier each night.</p><p>* Make personal time a priority: Set aside time every day - even a few minutes - to socialize with family and friends, read or meditate. If your loved one receives Medicare or Medicaid services, speak with a caseworker about <a href="http://www.medicare.gov/coverage/hospice-and-respite-care.html" rel="nofollow">respite resources</a> for extended time off.</p><p>* Don&rsquo;t ignore depression: Understand what signals signs of depression: continuous low mood, low self-esteem, lack of motivation, neglecting hobbies and unexplained aches and pains. If you think you may be depressed, talk to your doctor immediately and consider caregiving support groups or professional counseling.</p><p>* Use online resources: At Express Scripts, their <a href="https://host1.medcohealth.com/consumer/site/home?partner=CAREGIVER&amp;accessLink=SHP_RM_01" rel="nofollow">website</a> and mobile app can make managing prescriptions for you and your patient easier, and reduce the administrative burden associated with care-giving. <a href="http://lab.express-scripts.com/adherence/improving-adherence-with-home-delivery/" rel="nofollow">Home delivery can be a convenient way</a> to receive medications and ensure you don&rsquo;t miss a dose, and specialist pharmacists, who understand your unique needs, can provide additional support and counsel for you and your loved one.</p><p>* Don&rsquo;t do it alone: Talk with your family members, friends, neighbors, your religious community or local civic organizations like the Boy and Girl Scouts of America - about available support services. The Department of Health and Human Services has an online resource to help <a href="http://eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx" rel="nofollow">connect caregivers with locally available support services</a>.</p><p>For more resources and information on ways to keep your health in check, visit Express Scripts&rsquo; Healthcare Insights blog at <a href="http://lab.express-scripts.com/" rel="nofollow">http://lab.express-scripts.com/</a>.</p>

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