Family caregiving is an urgent national public health issue. The elderly increasingly choose to stay at home, and 90 percent of their care is provided by family caregivers. This care is estimated to save $470 billion annually; importantly, it allows many elders to stay out of care facilities and in their homes. Caregiver well-being has been highlighted as a side effect of this trend, with negative impacts that include emotional, physical, and financial burdens that are exacerbated by lack of confidence in the tasks these caregivers are required to perform. The purpose of our project is to enhance the well-being of family caregiver/elderly patient dyads.
In Tier I, we engaged a community of patients and caregivers with experience in the stresses of managing care needs of the elderly. In Tier II, we expanded our community, adding clinicians and researchers with expertise in assessing the health and well-being of elders. In Tier III, we seek to identify ways that primary care provider teams can be engaged to assess evolving caregiver needs, help connect caregiver/patient dyads to community resources, and assist in training caregivers for the medically related tasks they perform. We aim to identify practical and feasible collaboration between primary care providers and caregivers to optimize patient care while enhancing providers’ and caregivers’ ability to support this care. We reimagine the primary care team as a family-centered team that includes primary care providers, their staff, and, importantly, patients and their family caregivers. The impact of this shift will be evaluated with a patient-centered outcomes research project.