In a March 2018 Journal of Palliative Medicine article addressing improvements for dementia and senior caregiving, Everette James, interim dean and director of the Health Policy Institute, and other researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the RAND Corp. stated that “fundamental changes are needed in the way we identify, assess, and support caregivers. Educational and workforce development reforms are needed to enhance the competencies of health care and long-term service providers to effectively engage caregivers.”
The availability of family caregivers in the future is threatened by higher rates of childlessness, smaller and more geographically dispersed families, and increasing participation of women in the labor force. At the same time, advances in medicine that save and extend lives increase the duration, complexity, and technical difficulty of care required by individuals with serious illness and disability. Family caregivers will continue to play a vital role in existing health care and LTSS systems. However, their willingness to provide care and their effectiveness in doing so will depend on fundamental changes in how we recognize them as key contributors to the health of their relatives, integrate them into the formal provider systems, and support them to do their job. The stakes are high, particularly for high-need, high-cost patients whose quality of life critically depends on the availability of a family caregiver, and for society as a whole responsible for providing high-quality and cost-effective care.
Read the 2018 published study at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5756457.
And learn how the study helped shape a ’care ecosystem’ to support dementia patients and caregivers at forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2020/01/07/how-a-care-ecosystem-supports-dementia-patients-and-caregivers/#685b41401be9.