Opinion: The Washington failure that's making us sick
It's ironic that a pandemic that has made us hyper-cautious about our families' physical health has also taken a more insidious health toll on our stress.
Given the wealth of research linking daily chronic stress to long-term health, it's worth asking: is our country's failure to support caregivers making Americans sick?
Is caregiver support a health care issue?
But no one is talking about how much we could recoup in short and long-term health care costs.
In 2019, the US spent $3.8 trillion on health care costs , far more than other developed nations.
Stress translates into health through pathways like strain on the heart, weakened immune resistance, poor sleep, and even faster brain aging.
The toll of caregiving without job or income security can spiral into new health care costs for caregivers themselves.
I hadn't been sleeping and hadn't had the chance to rest or take care of myself, and I ended up hospitalized.
In failing to support caregivers with effective policies, we miss the most promising opportunities to promote both adult and child health.
Reframing support policies like paid family and medical leave and accessible, affordable childcare as forms of preventive medicine is critical.
From a health perspective alone, fixing care support structures is cost-effective.
A few extra weeks, even a few extra days, of paid family leave might have warded off a hefty hospital bill.