Teaching Family Members Medical Skills

I’m going through a personal experience right now.  My mother’s mother, who I’m very close to, is currently in a rehabilitative center as she mends from a broken hip obtained this spring.  I hate the thought of her being in pain, or suffering and I’m glad she’s getting the care she needs to heal.  But worst of all, I’m worried about what should happen when she comes home, and if she should fall again, alone, if her caretaker or my uncle aren’t there with her.

I know what to do in these situations – after all, I’ve been in geriatric health care for the past 15+ years.  The problem is I’m in Houston and she’s in Chicago.  So I’ve found myself in the position of having to communicate long-distance with the family members that ARE there on how best to provide medical care and skills for her in my absence, and I know that many other families often experience the same situations, as more and more hospitals send patients home after shorter stays and many patients live with multiple chronic diseases.

As care at home becomes more common, families are taking on complicated medical tasks such as giving injections, changing surgical dressings and operating special medical equipment, often with little instruction.

An estimated 43.5 million adults provide care at home for a chronically ill, disabled or elderly relative, according to a 2015 report by the AARP Public Policy Institute. Now, a new push is under way to train family caregivers in skills once only provided by medical professionals in hospitals and nursing homes.

Families provide the bulk of the care to our aging population in the home, and many caregivers struggle with the nursing aspects of care, such as managing medications and complex wound care,” says Heather M. Young, dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at University of California, Davis. “While intimidating, it is well within their abilities with the right tools and training.”

Research conducted by AARP and the United Hospital Fund found that almost half of family caregivers performed medical or nursing tasks. Three out of four of those were managing medications, including administering intravenous fluids and injections.


Most caregivers told the researchers they received little or no training to perform those tasks. While insurers pay for some home health-care services, they are typically limited to a short period after discharge. Nearly 70% of patients had no home visit from a health-care professional after a hospital discharge, the AARP—United Hospital Fund research found.

The UC Davis nursing school has teamed up with AARP to create a series of online how-to videos for family caregivers.

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Here are some tips on what to do if we’re the ones caring for our loved ones.
Thanks AARP, for shedding light on a subject that needs to be addressed.

Family Caregiver’s Video Guide to Managing Medications



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