Caregiver Support

A caregiver is a family member or other person who regularly looks after a sick or disabled older adult.

  • Caregiver Support

    More than 44 million people in the United States devote a large portion of their lives to older adult care. Being a caregiver takes its toll both physically and emotionally. Caregivers need to follow basic health advice to care for their bodies (i.e., exercise, adequate rest, healthy eating), while at the same time take care of themselves emotionally to prevent burnout.

    There is a growing awareness of the need for caregiver support. Caregiver support groups and other resources are becoming increasingly available. Caregivers may not realize such organizations exist, or may feel that support for them is not important. Geriatric nurses commonly lookout for signs of caregiver burnout and offer solutions.

  • Caregiver Assessment

    Persons providing care are at risk for depression, fatigue, stress, anxiety, grief, social isolation and physical and emotional problems. The Modified Caregiver Strain Index is an assessment tool given to family members or any individual providing care. The tool is designed to determine if there is a need to learn more about the caregiver’s situation.

    The screening tool helps to identify areas of strain in the caregiver’s life that cause the greatest struggle. It has 13 questions about physical health, family finances, social interactions, time demands and employment. A high score on this test indicates the need for further testing, and a sign of caregiver strain.

    Identification of persons at risk for caregiver burden is the first step toward relieving the stress of caregiving. Help can include support groups, educational programs and respite or adult day care.

  • Healthcare Organization Initiatives

    Visitation Hours

    Open visitation hours are used in some hospitals across the country. Open visitation is intended to make healthcare patient- and family-centered. There are no limitations on visiting hours, even in the ICU and Hospice units. Visitors may come and go as they please.

    Visits from loved ones help lower stress levels. The family may help to increase communication between the patient and his or her doctors and nurses, provide more opportunities for patient education and supply patient history and feedback.

    By giving family members who are occupied during traditional visiting hours, open visitation can improve both family and patient satisfaction. Patients indeed benefit from the support and positive reinforcement of their loved ones. And family members may be especially comforted by their ability to be present during off-hours.

    Patient & Family Coordinated Care Toolkit

    The Patient & Family Coordinated Care Toolkit is designed to assist family caregivers with their hospitalized loved ones. The toolkit not only fosters better communication between caregivers and the healthcare team, but also among multiple caregivers.

    The toolkit contains a “Leave a Message Notebook” that allows the caregiver to provide pertinent information to the healthcare team (and other caregivers) and track conversations on care.

    An “Ask Me, Too” pin is also included for nurses to wear. The pin signals nurses’ willingness to engage in conversation with caregivers about care plans for their loved ones. Specific questions are included in the notebook to help start dialogues.

    The Patient & Family Coordinated Care Toolkit is part of Professional Partners Supporting Caregivers Across Settings funded by The Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation through the AARP Foundation in partnership with the AARP Public Policy Institute, Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders and the American Journal of Nursing.


Caregivers Link:
Caregiver Support Links:

Note: The NICHE for Patient+Family Encyclopedia provides links to third party web sites, however, NICHE does not recommend and or endorse any products or any of the content on any third party websites.