Giving Compass' Take:

• According to researchers, family caregivers report that medical health care workers provide little to no support for them when managing older adults' health needs. 

• How can family caregivers feel empowered to change their situation? What kind of partnerships could medical professionals facilitate with family caregivers to improve relationships? 

• Read more about why it's necessary to support family caregivers. 

Researchers say most caregivers surveyed for the study report that health care workers listen to them (88.8%) and ask about their understanding of older adults’ treatments (72.1%). But a much smaller proportion (28.2%) say health care workers always or usually ask them whether they need help in caring for the older adult.

The figure was significantly higher, 37.3%, for a subset of people caring for older adults with dementia.

The study, in JAMA Network Open, was an analysis of survey data from 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 lead author Jennifer Wolff, professor in the health policy and management department at the Bloomberg School at Johns Hopkins University.

Nearly 20 million Americans are unpaid, usually in-family caregivers for adults over 64, according to the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The care they provide often includes help with taking medication, bringing older adult patients to a health care facility, and assisting with other health care activities. Given these important functions, the interactions between these caregivers and health care workers can affect the quality of care for the older adult patient.

“It’s a potential point of intervention for improving care,” Wolff says.

Read the full article about family caregivers by Barbara Benham at Futurity.