Family Caregivers Find Relief with Chronic Care Management
Today, more than 15 million Americans serve as family caregivers for older adults. For older adults with chronic conditions and disabilities family care or “home care” can be substantial in scope, intensity, and duration. The overwhelming majority of family caregivers find great satisfaction and purpose caring for loved ones. Family caregiversassume day-today responsibilities even though sometimes they may feel unprepared to provide care. Most have limited knowledge related to coordination of care, including management of medication, pain, mobility, and symptoms. Such challenges and responsibilities can leave family caregivers feeling tired, isolated, and stressed.
More than half of family caregivers provide eight hours of care or more every week, and 1 in 5 provides more than 40 hours per week. Four out of ten caregivers spend five or more years providing support, and 2 out of 10 have spent a decade or more of their lives caring for their family member. The family caregiver themselves may be living with one or more chronic illness. The physical and emotional health of family caregivers has the potential to influence the health, welfare and rehabilitation of persons with chronic illness.
Chronic Care Management (CCM) and Transitional Care Management (TCM) Care Managers can work alongside family caregivers helping them take care of loved ones, as well as take care of themselves. Often family caregivers lack support, training, information and a sympathetic ear.
Care Managers can serve an integral role in helping family caregivers address demands on energy and time, as well as changes in family roles and responsibilities. Care Managers can share assessments and transitional care plans to relieve some of the pressure of trying to keep track of records, appointments, and the various healthcare and service providers needed for follow-up.
As family caregivers attempt to balance caregiving with their other activities, such as work, family, and leisure, Care Managers can be valuable team members supporting care coordination. Caregiver may be at increased risk for burnout or distressed if they are unable to participate in valued personal activities and interests. They may also have a greater risk for self-injury, or falling due to lifting or overexertion of a family member in need, or even trying to manage their own care needs. If a family caregiver has two or more chronic conditions, they can also benefit directly from CCM coordinated care and care planning.
Many older adults with chronic illness have family caregivers providing a substantial level of support. Having CCM and TCM Care Managers as a part of the family care team can protect family caregivers’ health and safety, and improve the balance of home care.