“Home Alone,” a report by the AARP Public Poly Institute and the United Hospital Fund found that the role of family caregivers has dramatically expanded to include roles previously only provided in hospitals. The estimated economic value of these caregivers was approximately $450 million in 2009. While caregivers still perform fundamental caregiving tasks such as cooking, managing household tasks, bathing and shopping for their loved ones, the online survey of 1,677 family caregivers found that nearly half of the respondents cared for individuals with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions and that more than three-quarters of them managed medications including intravenous fluids and injections. While most of the respondents felt that the care they provided prevented their loved ones from entering institutions, many felt they needed more training and more than half felt that they had no choice as there wasn’t anyone else to do the job and insurance wouldn’t pay for help. The report also found that caregivers were more likely to report feeling depressed or helpless and more than a third reported being in fair or poor health.
The report offers recommendations to better support caregiving families including suggestions that coursework in nursing, social work and allied health should be modified and strengthened, health care professionals should do more to support family caregivers especially those caring for individuals with demanding nursing or medical needs and federal and state policymakers should consider caregiver needs when developing new models of care coordination. Find more information on the report here.
For information on how a Geriatric Care Manager can help caregivers lead better lives go here.