Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Finally, an Article about the Caregiver

No news to most of us who either are the caregiver and know how powerful and endearing and demanding a role that is, or are the ill partner who witnesses the caregiver's fatigue. But this article in the New York Times articulates well how vital it is, especially for health professionals, to pay some attention to the caregiver.

Offering Care for the Caregiver

"......For all our assertions about the importance of caring in what we do, doctors as a profession have been slow to recognize family members and loved ones who care for patients at home. These “family caregivers” do work that is complex, physically challenging and critical to a patient’s overall well-being, like dressing wounds, dispensing medication, and feeding, bathing and dressing those who can no longer do so themselves.

Many of these caregiving tasks were once the purview of doctors and nurses, a central component of the “caring professions.” But over the past century, as these duties increasingly fell to individuals with little or no training, doctors and even some nurses began to confer less importance, and status, to the work of caregiving.

It comes as no surprise, then, that physicians now rarely, if ever, learn about what a family caregiver or health care aide must do unless they are faced with caring for their own loved ones. We doctors don’t know or aren’t always fully aware of what it takes to care for a patient after we leave the room......"

"........“Normally everyone is always focused on the patient, patient autonomy and the patient’s wishes in terms of the ethical standpoint,” said Dr. Virginia L. Hood, chairwoman of the Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee of the American College of Physicians and one of the paper’s authors. “But family caregivers are an important part of the health care team, too. We need to value these caregivers better, think about their needs and consider how they are central to the patient’s care, not just someone who happens to be pushing the wheelchair.”

Of particular importance is understanding how the work of caregiving can also give rise to a new set of medical issues: those of the caregiver....."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My grandmother and I took care of my great aunt for a year before she passed away and it was one of the most stressful times of my life! She was a school teacher for 30 years and taking direction from someone else was not in her nature at all! The only one that could get her to eat was my daughter who was 9 at the time (she didn't want to upset her). It took a big toll on my whole family but, she had lived in the same house from the time she was born and we knew that a nursing home was out of the question. I will always be glad I did it, no matter how hard it was.