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Nearly Half of Family Caregivers Assist With Medical Tasks, Many Receive No Training

A new study finds that 46 percent of family caregivers perform some sort of medical or nursing task for their loved one. Of these caregivers, most report receiving little information about the task, while 47 percent report no training from any source.

The report, based on a survey of 1,677 caregivers, found that family caregivers frequently performed medical tasks. Of those who performed medical and nursing tasks, more than one third provided wound care and 78 percent provided some form of medication management. Most care recipients took several medications. 46 percent took between 5 and 9 different medications and 18 percent took 10 or more prescription medications. Many caregivers found medication management challenging. Most found it challenging for one of the following four reasons:

  • 42 percent found it difficult because of the time commitment involved
  • 29 percent reported being afraid that they would make a mistake, causing harm to their loved one
  • 24 percent cited their family member’s resistance to taking medication as a major difficulty
  • 16 percent found it emotionally difficult to administer medication

Despite the prevalence of medication management by caregivers, 60 percent reported learning some part of medication management on their own, while 47 percent reported receiving no instruction from any source. Although training was more common for caregivers providing wound care, most respondents found training inadequate and 66 percent feared making a mistake. “These tasks merit a closer look because they can require specialized training, and they have been linked to preventable health care spending, such (as) the costs of inpatient admissions due to medication errors and infections,” read the report. “Performing these tasks incorrectly can have adverse impacts on the care recipient’s health status and quality of life.”

More than half of family caregivers performing medical and nursing tasks reported feeling like they did not have a choice in whether or not to care for their loved one. When asked to elaborate, 43 percent cited feelings of personal responsibility as their main reason for caring for their loved one. Many feared their loved one would be institutionalized if they did not provide care.

Read the full study: Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care

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