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Many Family Caregivers Never Speak to Health Care Workers

Likelihood of being asked about needing help up for those who interacted often with health care workers

MONDAY, Jan. 27, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Many family or unpaid caregivers report never speaking with older adults’ health care workers, according to a study published online Jan. 24 in JAMA Network Open.

Jennifer L. Wolff, Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis of a sample of 1,916 family and unpaid caregivers to 1,203 community-living older adults with activity limitations.

The researchers found that caregivers reported that in the previous year, they never, sometimes or rarely, or often (56.3, 33.0, and 10.7 percent, respectively) spoke with or emailed older adults’ health care workers. Of the caregivers who interacted with older adults’ health care workers, most reported being always or usually (70.6 and 18.2 percent, respectively) listened to and always or usually (54.4 and 17.7 percent, respectively) being asked about their understanding of treatments for older adults. Fewer reported being always or usually (21.3 and 6.9 percent, respectively) asked about needing help managing older adults’ care, while 45.0 percent were never asked. The likelihood of being always or usually listened to, being asked about understanding treatments, and being asked about needing help was increased for caregivers who interacted with older adults’ health care workers often versus sometimes or rarely.

“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,” Wolff said in a statement.

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