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Family caregivers increasingly likely to perform medical tasks

October 11, 2012

Aging in place is important for many seniors, but results of a recent study suggest that assisted living may sometimes be the better option. An online survey from AARP found that nearly half of family caregivers provide their loved ones with medical and nursing assistance, which sometimes includes managing complicated regimens and performing injections.

The findings are alarming for a number of reasons. For starters, family caregivers may not be qualified to perform medical tasks, which is especially important to seniors who may be managing multiple chronic conditions. Furthermore, it can be a challenge for caregivers themselves because they may not be comfortable with certain tasks.

"It's hard to do something that's personally invasive and painful," Carol Levine of the United Hospital Fund told The New York Times. "People were really freaked out about it."

Of the 46 percent of respondents who said they help their loved ones in a medical capacity, one-third performed wound care tasks while another third used meters and monitors.

The new challenges caregivers face highlight the importance of retirement communities and assisted living facilities, which provide medical attention while allowing seniors to enjoy their independence.