Family caregivers are performing more and more complex medical procedures on their elderly loved ones at home.
While these family members are often uncomfortable performing such procedures – such as administering IVs and wound care – they do it to keep their loved ones at home and out of nursing homes. And they are putting their own health at risk in the process.
This is according to a recent AARP/United Hospital Fund survey of 1,677 family caregivers that looks at how the role of America’s 42 million family caregivers has dramatically expanded. (See “Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care”)
The report confirms what those of us who are or have been family caregivers know to be true: taking care of an elderly loved one is overwhelming and, in too many cases, it’s simply more than most non-medical people can handle.
We provide a level of care for a range of chronic physical and cognitive conditions that we never expected. Furthermore, we largely taught ourselves how to do it, the report says.
“We asked family caregivers how they learned to manage their family members’ medications, for example, and 61 percent said, ‘I learned on my own,’” said Carol Levine, director of Families and Health Care Project for United Hospital Fund. “Clearly, professionals need to do a better job of training family caregivers.”
Look at these findings from the report:
- Almost half of 1,677 family caregivers surveyed said they perform medical and nursing tasks for care recipients
- More than three out of four said those tasks include administering IVs and injections as well as managing medications
- Caregivers are also providing wound care, which they find very challenging—more than one third wanted more training
- Forty percent of those surveyed report feeling stressed and worried about making a mistake; one third said their own health is suffering
- Most are doing this because they think it will keep their loved ones out of nursing homes
This is why BrightStar Care provides skilled nursing care – as well as companion and personal care. Families need this kind of help. Of the 31,000 families BrightStar is currently taking care of around the country, 32 percent say skilled nursing is the reason they chose us.
Our nurses coordinate treatment requirements with your loved one’s physician and can either provide comprehensive training to family members or perform the skilled care ourselves, giving family members sorely needed respite and complete peace of mind.
Anne Marie Gattari, president, BrightStar of Grosse Pointe / Southeast Macomb, can be reached at 586.279.3610 or firstname.lastname@example.org