Oct 22, 2012

Caregivers facing more challenges than in the past

Caregiving for an aging loved one: It's not just about bathing, shopping and handling finances anymore. 

A recent study from AARP's Public Policy Institute and United Hospital Fund finds that caregivers are increasingly taking on tasks that were once performed only by trained medical staff and hospitals. The study found that almost half of family caregivers administer injections and IVs, perform wound care, use various types of medical monitors and other specialized medical equipment, manage multiple medications, prepare food for special diets, etc. 

And we are not talking about a handful of people. According to a 2009 study conducted by the National Family Caregivers Alliance and AARP, 65 million people have cared for a chronically ill, disabled or aged relatives in any given year. Chances are today, the numbers are even higher. The study also found that the typical caregiver is a 49-year-old woman, and among them, 37% have children under the age of 18 living at home. That does not leave a lot of time for a caregiver to bone up on IV administration and managing multiple medications throughout the day.

Often the person being cared for is released from a hospital to their home, or to the caregiver's home, and the caregiver has gotten only a quick tutorial on how to perform these tasks. If your loved one is being discharged from a medical facility and you don't feel you have sufficient information about how to care for his needs, persist in asking for more guidance and tutoring.  You may also want to take a look at this hospital-to-home discharge guide prepared by the United Hospital Fund's Next Step in Care Program. 

If your loved one is in a rehabilitation facility, you may learn, often not until discharge is near, that his/her needs are so great that long-term care is needed. If this occurs, additional challenges present themselves, including the problem of how to pay for long-term care. If your loved one is a Florida resident, please contact us for help. We can often help someone tap into Medicaid benefits and/or Veterans benefits before the family loses everything to the nursing home expense. 

For a good guide from Next Step in Care on how to manage the rehabilitation facility-to- nursing home transition, click here.

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