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Dr. Caregiver Is In

Family caregivers: If you’re ever looking for a new career, you might want to consider nursing or medicine. Results from the national survey “Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care,” released this week, suggest your learning curve may not be very steep.

Yes, family caregivers still perform typical tasks such as bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, shopping and handling finances. But the survey reveals the scope of duties often goes far beyond these responsibilities to include handling wound care, administering intravenous fluids and operating specialized medical equipment. Home dialysis. Suctioning. Ventilators. Scary!

Add to the list uncooperative recipients, inordinate amounts of time required to perform these sophisticated tasks and stress over making mistakes. What’s more, many of the 1,677 caregivers who participated in this joint AARP Public Policy Institute/United Hospital Fund online survey felt they didn’t get enough training or support.

For further admiration of family caregivers, check out these critical survey findings:

If you handle complicated medical care, Carol Levine, United Hospital Fund’s director of the Families and Health Care Project and a coauthor of the survey, has a list of questions to ask yourself, along with resources and advice.

What kinds of caregiving duties do you do? Did you ever imagine you would be performing technical tasks? Which do you consider the hardest and why? Do you have any strategies to make your job easier? Let’s get the conversation going!

Follow Sally Abrahms at www.sallyabrahms.com or on Twitter.

Photo by MilitaryHealth via CreativeCommons.org.