The need for a family caregiver often is unexpected. A baby might be born prematurely with long-term medical needs, or an adult may face long-term rehabilitation from injuries after an accident. Cancer patients often need assistance during long months of treatment, and older relatives with progressive dementia gradually become unable to care for themselves.
Caring regularly for a family member who has an injury, illness or disability is both time-consuming and stressful. As a result, family caregivers often spend less time taking care of their own health and can become ill themselves.