Family Caregivers: The Unsung Heroes of Patient Care

Coordinating care for someone else is overwhelming and time-consuming

November 17, 2023

According to recent data collected by The Harris Poll, more than two-fifths of U.S. adults (46%) have helped someone else navigate the healthcare system. Of these types of caregivers, 70% say coordinating and managing healthcare is overwhelming and time-consuming. And only about 30% said they had all the information they needed to help someone navigate the healthcare system.

While managing the medical needs of others, the caregiver’s own physical and mental health often suffers. Of those who were currently employed, nearly one in five caregivers said that, by helping someone else navigate care, they had to take time off work and/or their own health suffered (19%). Negative health outcomes along with job loss, work absenteeism, and reduced productivity as consequences of caregiving can be translated to an estimated economic impact of $264 billion.

John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, said, “The findings demonstrate how the system itself is getting in the way of people being able to take care of themselves as well as the ones they love. The system is costly, confusing, and it takes too long to get needed care.”

The findings determine that, on average, adults spend two hours per week coordinating care for themselves and their loved ones, essentially equaling one full eight-hour workday per month. With numbers like these, it is no great surprise that caregivers are feeling overwhelmed.

It is crucial for PAs to be aware of the additional strain on caregivers and keep that consideration in mind during daily practice. As front-line providers practicing across all settings and specialties, PAs have more than 500 million patient interactions each year and for many patients, serve as an important touchpoint with the healthcare system. By working to develop trust with patients and those who care for them, PAs are poised to help reduce the outsized burden on caregivers.

As National Family Caregivers Month continues, AAPA recognizes the caregivers across the country who dedicate their time to coordinating healthcare for loved ones. For resources and more information on National Family Caregiver Month, visit Caregiver Action Network.

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