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Family Caregivers Overwhelmed and Undertrained

But the vast majority think their duties are worthwhile and are satisfied with their role

Caregivers Overwhelmed but Satisfied

Roberto Westbrook/Getty Images

Over 1,000 people with experience in long-term care were interviewed for the poll.

En español | They have little training and are often overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, but adults who care for older relatives by and large say their experience is worthwhile, a recent poll reveals.

Conducted by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the poll found that nearly half of family caregivers over age 40 handle medical tasks, from changing bandages to inserting catheters or feedings tubes. Among that group, only 47 percent say they have received adequate training to perform those tasks. But more than 90 percent of family caregivers say they value the experience.

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Despite that sentiment, the lack of caregiver training underscores serious shortcomings in the sort of informal long-term care that many rely on, an expert says.

“Caregivers are taken for granted, and they are invisible in the system,” Judy Feder, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy, told the AP. “It’s bad for them, it’s bad for care recipients, and it’s bad for the system.”

Among the poll’s other findings:

  • Nearly half say it’s difficult to balance work and caregiving.
  • Men are more likely to have employers who are not supportive of their caregiving duties.
  • Eight percent say they have been sidelined from job-growth opportunities because of their caregiving responsibilities.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other mental-health conditions are more stressful on caregivers than dealing with physical ailments.

The poll was conducted online and via phone. Pollsters interviewed 1,004 people with experience in long-term care.