Family Caregivers of Older Adults Experience Significant Emotional Difficulty
A family member serves as a caregiver for a patient with cancer.
Family caregivers providing substantial assistance with health care to older adults experience significant emotional difficulty and role-related effects, but only one-quarter use supportive services, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has shown.1
Family and unpaid caregivers frequently aid older adults who have an increased risk for receiving poorly coordinated care. Therefore, researchers sought to examine how caregivers' involvement in their health care activities corresponds with caregiving responsibilities, supportive services use, and caregiving-related effects.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from 1739 family and unpaid caregivers of 1171 older adults with disabilities who participated in the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) and National Study of Caregiving (NSOC).
Results showed that caregivers providing substantial help with health care to older adults provided more hours of assistance per week than caregivers providing some or no help (P<.001). Researchers found that supportive services was used by 26.7% of caregivers who provided substantial help compared with 15.5% of those who provided some help and 7.6% of those who provided no help with health care (P<.001).
The study also demonstrated that caregivers providing substantial help with health care were significantly more likely to experience emotional difficulty (OR, 1.79; 95% CI: 1.20-2.66), physical difficulty (OR, 2.03; 95% CI: 1.39-2.97), and financial difficulty (OR, 2.21; 95% CI: 1.52-3.22) compared with caregivers who provided no help.
Caregivers providing substantial help with health care activities were also 5 times more likely to experience restrictions to participation in valued activities and 3 times more likely to experience a reduction in work productivity.
The findings suggest that supportive services should be initiated more often to reduce the burden on family and unpaid caregivers who provide substantial help.
1. Wolff JL, Spillman BC, Freedman VA, Kasper JD. A national profile of family and unpaid caregivers who assist older adults with health care activities [published online ahead of print February 15, 2016]. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.7664.