Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care to Their Spouses
A report of the AARP Public Policy Institute and the United Hospital Fund
See the related press release.
This report shows that spouses who are caregivers not only perform many of the tasks that health care professionals do—a range of medical/nursing tasks including medication management, wound care, using meters and monitors, and more—but they are significantly more likely to do so than other family caregivers, who are mostly adult children.
According to the report, nearly two-thirds of spouses who are family caregivers performed such tasks (65 percent), compared to 42 percent of nonspousal caregivers. And despite these responsibilities, spouses were less likely than nonspousal caregivers to receive in-home support from health care professionals: 84 percent of spousal care recipients received no professional health care on site, compared to 65 percent of nonspousal care recipients. They were also less likely to receive help from family or friends or home care aides: 58 percent of the spouses reported no additional help from others, compared to 20 percent of nonspouses.
The report notes that it is unclear why spouses receive less help, hypothesizing that it could be choice, lack of awareness about resources, financial limitations, or fear of losing independence. The report calls for additional research to help tailor interventions that support but do not supplant the primary bond between spouses.
Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care to Their Spouses, a publication in the “Insight on the Issues” series, summarizes the new findings drawn from additional analysis of data based on a December 2011 national survey of 1,677 family caregivers, 20 percent of whom were spouses or partners. Earlier findings were published in Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care and in an earlier publication in the “Insight on the Issues” series, Employed Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care.
Resources for family caregivers and health care providers are available at our Next Step in Care website.