Family caregivers in palliative care

Clin Geriatr Med. 2004 Nov;20(4):671-88, vi. doi: 10.1016/j.cger.2004.07.003.


This article defines caregiving broadly to include the informal (ie, unpaid) care provided by family members that goes beyond customary and normative social support provided in social relationships. Family caregivers in particular play significant roles in the care of elders with advanced chronic disease and in the context of palliative and end-of-life care. These caregivers typically are involved in critical medical decisions, provide vital assistance with activities of daily living, and carry out most nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic treatment recommendations for community-based elders. This article describes family caregivers and the costs of care and introduces the stress process model to highlight essential caregiving experiences and needs in the context of palliative care. Common interventions used to support caregivers are highlighted, and the bereavement experience among caregivers is discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bereavement
  • Caregivers* / organization & administration
  • Caregivers* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care*
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology