Family Caregivers Forced to Take on Medical Tasks

family caregivers

Caregivers are responsible for more and more

Chances are, if you’re caring for an older adult, you’ve had to learn to do medical-type tasks. What are those? Things like managing multiple medications, giving injections, cleaning wounds, and even using feeding tubes.

These are tasks that used to be done only by trained professionals. Now, it’s common to have hospitals or skilled nursing rehab facilities discharge their patients home with a long list of “must do” medical tasks.

 

Interview with AARP caregiving expert

MinnPost spoke with Susan Reinhard, the senior vice president of the AARP’s Public Policy Institute about this trend.

The interview covers a lot of ground and really gets into the challenges that caregivers are facing today. Here are three especially relevant questions and highlights from the answers.

Top question 1
MinnPost: What are some of the complex medical and nursing tasks that family caregivers are now expected to provide at home?

Susan Reinhard: They’re the kinds of things that make nursing students tremble the first time they do it..It’s lots of different pills that have to be given several times a day…Or it may include an injection…colostomy care, wound care, tube feedings, catheter care, special diets that are very complicated, use of technology — even ventilator care. It’s a long list.

Almost half of family caregivers are performing these complicated tasks, and they’re usually doing more than one. That’s our biggest concern, particularly because they rarely get the training they need to know how to do them.

 

Top question 2
MinnPost: The caregivers also receive very little follow-up support, right? Nurses aren’t coming out to their homes to train them, either.

Susan Reinhard: That was another thing that was surprising. Most are Medicare-eligible. They need a referral for a visiting nurse, but very few are getting those referrals. I don’t know why…That’s our concern. Everybody needs support, not only those who are lucky enough to get a referral.

 

Top question 3
MinnPost: And families? They need to be proactive, right?

Susan Reinhard: Yes. It’s ideal if a family member is aware that they deserve this help. You should not be leaving a hospital unless you know what you’re doing and feel comfortable about doing it. Otherwise, it’s what’s known as an unsafe discharge, which is technically against the law. You have every right to say, “I am not taking my mother home or my husband home because I don’t feel it’s safe.” …Tell them you don’t feel safe and that you need someone to show you how to do this.

 

Next Step  Read the full article at MinnPost

 

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: WellBuzz

 

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