Daughter Care Is the Health-Care Issue Every Woman Should Be Talking About

As health-care reform continues to make headlines daily, researchers from Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center have surfaced a health-care issue that’s disproportionately affecting women: It’s daughter care, the tendency for women to bear the brunt of the burden in unpaid caregiving for their aging parents. This could be particularly troubling if your parents happen to suffer from dementia, since people who develop this prevalent degenerative brain disease could require about 100 extra hours of care per week than elderly people without this diagnosis, according to a new report recently published in the medical journal JAMA Neurology.

 

Aging is something many women will have to acknowledge sooner or later if things don’t change. After all, women now outpace men in hours spent caregiving for their aging parents and their in-laws: Women provide nearly two-thirds of elder care, and daughters are 28 percent more likely to care for a parent than sons, according to the JAMA report.

Before you dismiss these stats — you love your parents and want to take care of them, right?! — remember that caregiving can make it difficult to work full-time, with women more likely than men to cut back on working hours, take a leave of absence, or even leave the workforce, forfeiting employment benefits like health care in the process, according to a 2014 report from the Alzheimer’s Association on female caregivers. The financial burden of caring when you really need to be working can also impact your retirement plans and affect your ability to pay for your kids’ college education, among other things, according to a representative from the Alzheimer’s Association who spoke with the New York Times.

“The best long-term care insurance in our country is a conscientious daughter,” JAMA report authors wrote of the status quo, concluding that something has got to be done to change this. Agree to agree?

6 Bad Things That Can Happen If You Take

There’s quite an allure attached to prenatal vitamins: Many women have come to believe that taking them, pregnant or not, will help them grow out their hair, nails, and even given them an extra added dose of nutrients that their body must need, right? Wrong. Here, we spoke with medical experts to find out the (sometimes dangerous!) side effects of taking prenatal vitamins when you are not pregnant.

Your hair could fall out.

Taking prenatal vitamins to boost hair growth may not have the results you imagine. “While prenatal vitamins get a lot of credit for a woman’s thick pregnancy hair, these changes are actually due to hormonal differences that cause hair and nails to grow faster and make hair less likely to fall out,” said Megan Casper, M.S., RDN, owner of Megan Casper Nutrition and writer for Nourished Bite.

You could gain an unforeseen B12 deficiency.

One thing to take into consideration is the extra amount of nutrients prenatal vitamins have in them that your body may not need, and therefore harm more than help you. “Prenatal vitamins have more folate and iron than regular multivitamins,” said Christine Greves, M.D., an OBGYN for Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, FL.

You may have a false sense of security.

“One harm could be that there is a false sense of security of a person thinking that they are obtaining all of their nutrients from one vitamin,” said Dr. Greves. “Prenatal vitamins do not have enough vitamin D or calcium to meet our daily requirements.”

You may experience stomach problems.

Taking prenatal vitamins when you aren’t pregnant or nursing could cause side effects such as upset stomach, constipation, and heartburn, says Arielle Levitan, M.D., co-founder of Vous Vitamin.

You could damage your liver.

Since prenatal vitamins have large doses of iron in them, it’s important to watch out for your liver. “Iron in very large doses can be toxic to the liver and cause liver damage,” says Dr. Casper. “Signs of iron overdose include nausea, gastric bleeding, and severe diarrhea.”

Neurological damage could occur.

A B12 deficiency that’s gone undetected for a long time because of the high levels of folate in prenatal vitamins, can cause serious health issues. “B12 deficiency can develop slowly and cause many symptoms such as anemia, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, memory loss, and rapid heart rate,” says Dr. Casper. “Over time a deficiency could cause permanent neurological damage.”