The stress and strife many caregivers face was the topic of TEDMED’s latest Great Challenge series. The streaming video featured health care professionals who pondered what should be done to manage end of life care options and address caregiver needs.
There are 44 million full and part-time caregivers in the U.S. responding to an aging baby boomer population that the health care system isn’t equipped to handle. Costs continue to rise, and in 2010, Medicare paid $55 billion for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients’ lives.
“We all know what the issues we’re dealing with are: the aging population, the health care system not being in a position to take care of everyone, people getting busier and living further away from other family members and a real need for better coordination of care in the marketplace.” said Alan Blaustein, the founder of CarePlanners, an organization which provides educational support to members. “The real issue at hand is that there’s nobody in the system who’s in any position to properly care-give or coordinate care for any member of your family,” so the responsibilities rely on family.
Education was a common theme throughout the discussion directed at both medical students and family caregivers. Blaustein insists students learn about caregiving, even though hospital settings don’t allow time for much talk with those managing the care.
Cheri Lattimer, director of the National Transitions of Care Coalition, offered practical wisdom for those just beginning the implementation of educational support programs for those caring for family.
Lattimer proposed that health professionals talk with “health literacy” to those looking for education and just starting to care for those with dementia. “We are talking in the health literacy that patients and consumers can understand. As providers of care we often go into medical terminology which can be difficult to understand.”
She also recommends educational programs with multiple individuals who are dealing with similar struggles- so they can talk to each other.
More and more young people are now taking on caregiving roles. “There are far more children who provide caregiving than we know. It has an impact on them, their schoolwork and their own emotional situations,” said Suzanne Geffen Mintz, the co-founder of the National Family Caregivers Association.
“Other countries have recognized this problem and developed youth-centered programs that allows kids to be kids. There is vast experience elsewhere that could be adapted here,” said Carol Levine, director of the Families and Health Care Project. Young adults, 18 to 25-years-old, are also overlooked and increasingly involved in family caregiving, she said. There is diversity in family caregiving, and varied caregivers have varied needs.
Learn more from the Life Matters Media Newswire: