Family members often step up to act as primary caregivers for their aging relatives. These caretakers help ease the financial burden of treatment and provide an extra level of comfort by allowing the patient to stay home with someone they already know and trust.
However, a recent report from the Home Alone Alliance questions how prepared family caregivers are to handle the challenges of the role.
According to the 2019 edition of the report (which the alliance first published in 2012), half of family caregivers said they are performing complicated care tasks — like managing tube feedings, administering injections, and handling medical equipment — with insufficient medical training.
Half of the caretakers surveyed reported frequent worries about endangering their charges.
“This study shines new light on the diversity of family caregivers performing complex tasks — from men to millennials to multicultural populations — and is a rallying cry for an all hands-on-deck approach to creating age-friendly health systems that better support and prepare these often forgotten members of the healthcare team,” said Rani E. Synder, program director at the John A. Hartford Foundation.
According to Susan Reinhard, senior vice president at AARP — an alliance member — Home Alone Revisited focuses on the effects of stress on caregivers.
It also provides 10 recommendations for easing their physical and emotional strain, including increased public awareness of the issue and better tools to assess the complexity of tasks required to care for a family member.
“Other of our recommendations target health care and social service professionals, who must respond to the worries of family caregivers, and health care systems, which must make stronger efforts to recognize family caregivers and equip them with proper instruction and support with respect to complex care,” Reinhard writes. “Meanwhile, the private sector and all employers must play a role by helping to better recognize and support employees who are family caregivers.”