The Critical Role of Family Caregivers in Basic ADLs

Key Takeaways:

  • Aging in place is a growing trend: About 80% of seniors prefer living in private homes, with 77% of those aged 50 and above expressing a consistent desire to age in place. This trend poses challenges as individuals encounter difficulties in self-care with advancing age and conditions.

  • Crucial role of caregivers in home care: Informal caregivers play a vital role in supporting the basic activities of daily life. They act as a bridge between prescribed interventions and practical implementation.

  • Significance of caregiver-provider relationship: The relationship between healthcare providers and caregivers is as crucial as the provider-patient connection. Recognizing and valuing the contribution of caregivers is essential for successful care plans.

The majority of today’s aging population, around 80%, continue to live in private homes and apartments rather than in institutional settings such as nursing homes. The trend of aging in place is not going anywhere– if anything, it is growing in popularity. 77% of adults 50 and older want to remain in their homes for the long term — a number that has been consistent for more than a decade.

But aging in place isn’t as simple as it sounds. As conditions progress, it becomes harder for individuals to care for themselves and carry out basic activities of daily living. In many cases, this is where a family member or informal caregiver will step in. Providers must recognize the significance of incorporating these caregivers into care plans, particularly for those navigating complex conditions like dementia.

While basic activities of daily life are often taken care of in more formal care settings such as memory care facilities and assisted living, for those living at home, the coordination of this care falls to the caregiver.

Basic Activities of Daily Living (BADLs) include

  • Walking/Ambulating: Getting around and outside of the house
  • Feeding: Successfully eating meals throughout the day
  • Dressing & Grooming: Selecting and wearing clothes, as well as taking care of overall personal appearance
  • Toileting: Getting to and from the bathroom safely, and using proper hygiene
  • Bathing: Washing face & body in the shower
  • Transferring: Safely moving from one position to another – from a bed to a wheelchair, getting up and out of chairs, couches, cars, etc.

The number of elders needing help with activities of daily living increased with age from 21% of adults aged between 65 and 69 to 52% of those aged 80 and over. 

These tasks, without proper support from someone at home, can become impossible or unsafe for patients to complete. In these situations, caregivers coordinate this non-clinical care and have total insight and control over the care happening in the home. For patients who may struggle to remember to eat, drink water, or take medications on time, caregivers become the bridge between prescribed interventions and practical implementation.

This makes the relationship between provider and caregiver as important as the relationship between provider and patient. Those taking care of family members at home are truly a direct line to understanding the state of your patient’s well-being.

In the evolving landscape of healthcare, the role of caregivers is integral to the success of care plans for aging seniors, especially those grappling with conditions like dementia. By recognizing and valuing the pivotal contribution of caregivers, healthcare providers can bridge the gap between clinical recommendations and the reality of what happens behind closed doors, ensuring that seniors can age in place with dignity.

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