Caregiver care

Am Fam Physician. 2011 Jun 1;83(11):1309-17.


In 2009, nearly 66 million Americans (three in 10 U.S. households) reported at least one person providing unpaid care as a family caregiver. More adults with chronic conditions and disabilities are living at home than ever before, and family caregivers have an even higher level of responsibility. Caring for loved ones is associated with several benefits, including personal fulfillment. However, caregiving is also associated with physical, psychological, and financial burdens. Primary care physicians can aid in the identification, support, and treatment of caregivers by offering caregiver assessments-interviews directed at identifying high levels of burden-as soon as caregivers are identified. Repeat assessments may be considered when there is a change in the status of caregiver or care recipient. Caregivers should be directed to appropriate resources for support, including national caregiving organizations, local area agencies on aging, Web sites, and respite care. Psychoeducational, skills-training, and therapeutic counseling interventions for caregivers of patients with chronic conditions such as dementia, cancer, stroke, and heart failure have shown small to moderate success in decreasing caregiver burden and increasing caregiver quality of life. Further research is needed to further identify strategies to offset caregiver stress, depression, and poor health outcomes. Additional support and anticipatory guidance for the care recipient and caregiver are particularly helpful during care transitions and at the care recipient's end of life.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / economics
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Disabled Persons / psychology
  • Family Relations
  • Home Nursing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment / economics
  • Physicians, Primary Care*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Respite Care
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires