Monday, November 16, 2015

The New Caregivers: Millennial Generation (18 to 34)

About 25% of  U.S. caregivers fall into the age range of 18 to 34.  According to AARP and The National Alliance for Caregiving's 2015 Caregiving Report, there is an estimated 10 million millennials caring for adult family members.  Most have little or no prior experience with making important health care decisions or dealing with insurance for someone who has a serious illness.  In recent years caregiving has gotten more difficult because caregivers are now having to take on complex medical tasks that doctors and nurses once performed. 4 out 10 received little or no training.  One of the reasons for this is patients are being released earlier than in the past.  In 1980, the average hospital stay was 7.3 days.  It is just 4.8 days now.  Another reason is to ease pain and prolong life, medicine has become more complex with new medications, new ways to deliver them and increasingly sophisticated procedures.  New Medicare regulations are a powerful incentive for health care systems to give patients and caregivers the practical support they need to make the transition from hospital to home.  In these regulations, providers will be penalized if patients have to be readmitted in the hospital within 30 days.  The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving recently released free training training webinars on all aspects of caregiving.  Also, The San Francisco-based Family Caregiver Alliance has posted instructional caregiving videos on YouTube.  Major medical centers are also producing print and video instructions. Experts say much more needs to be done.  The increasingly demanding work has to be recognized.  It places an enormous burden on caregivers physically, psychologically and spiritually.  There are not many support groups that are focused on this age group.  It is critical to have even one person to confide in.  The caregiver's friends or other people close to them, no matter how well intended, just don't get it.

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