Family Caregivers Are Rarely Asked About Needing Assistance With Caring for Older Adults

FEWER THAN ONE-THIRD OF CAREGIVERS TO OLDER ADULTS REPORT BEING REGULARLY ASKED BY HEALTH CARE WORKERS ABOUT NEEDED SUPPORT

Family caregivers usually are not asked by health care workers about needing support in managing older adults’ care, according to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Most of the surveyed caregivers who interacted with health care workers reported that the latter always or usually listen to them (88.8 percent) and ask about their understanding of older adults’ treatments (72.1 percent). A much smaller proportion (28.2 percent) reported that health care workers always or usually asked them whether they needed help in their care of the older adult.

The figure was significantly higher, 37.3 percent, for the subset of caregivers caring for older adults with dementia.

The study, published January 24 in JAMA Network Open, was an analysis of survey data on 1,916 caregivers, mostly spouses or other family members, who provide care to older adults with activity limitations living in community settings such as private homes, apartment buildings, or senior housing.

“These results suggest that we as a society could do a better job of supporting family caregivers, who are providing the lion’s share of day-to-day care to older adults with activity limitations,” says study lead author Jennifer Wolff, PhD, Eugene and Mildred Lipitz Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. Wolff is also director of the Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care at the Bloomberg School. Read More from John Hopkins