The aging population of patients and family caregivers and a shift to care in the home are critical factors of concern regarding the management of medications.
The management and administration of medications to seriously ill patients for pain, dyspnea, constipation, and many other symptoms usually fall on the shoulders of family caregivers who are not trained in health care.
Little is known about how these informal caregivers cope with the demands of the complex medication regimens required to provide comfort and symptom control for patients.
A literature review of 15 studies explored the experiences and perspectives of family caregivers in managing medications for a family member being cared for and dying at home. The findings were synthesized into the following five themes, which provide a framework to improve caregiver support.
• Administration of medications (overmedicating or under medicating, side effects, correct dose, route, and frequency).
• Organizational skills (preparation, record-keeping, safe drug storage and disposal).
• Empowerment (confidence in their ability to manage medications).
• Relationships (within families and with health care providers).
• Support (professional support and advice; feelings of isolation and abandonment when support was lacking).
This is a reminder for all health professionals of the enormous burden taken on by family caregivers and their need for education and support. Their concerns are very similar to those of nurses.
See reference for more information.
Adapted from Medscape News & Perspective. Dying at home: the burden of medication management. Available at https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/908833. Internet. Accessed on May 25, 2019.To view the entire article and all other content on the Medscape News and Perspective site, a free, one-time registration is required.