Often the caretakers are the patients' own daughters, sons, wives, husbands or siblings -- 42-million caregivers in all.
Many Baby Boomers, the so-called 'Sandwich Generation,' are doing double duty for parents and children. It's a 24/7 job that can lead to chronic stress.
For thousands of caregivers across Arkansas, simple survival means nights of little sleep and lots of worry.
Mounting evidence shows this type of 'round-the-clock' care giving can cause very real physical and psychological strain.
Experts emphasize the important of time alone for caregivers, of stepping away when possible, even attending support meetings and putting their health first to avoid problems later.
There's no question that the stress of caring for an ill family member can actually cause illness. You can reduce the risk by reaching out for help, and accepting it.
Be specific when people ask how they can help: suggest they bring dinner once a week or watch your loved one so you can get some time alone.