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CDC: One-eighth of unpaid caregivers experiencing cognitive decline

One in five adults in the U.S. provide unpaid health care and support to a family member or friend.

But caregiving can also take a mental toll, one that can hinder vital tasks like giving medicines or managing finances.

In a CDC analysis of data from caregivers ages 45 and older in 22 states, almost 13% self-reported worsening or more frequent confusion or memory loss over the past year, compared to just over 10% of non-caregivers.

Affected parties were predominately male, employed and more likely to have chronic health conditions, mental distress, depression and activity limitations.

Cognitive declines can hint at early-stage dementia or arise from a treatable health condition.

Either way, they suggest caregivers might benefit from some support of their own.

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.