About 30% of all fatalities in the US take place at home. Good end-of-life (EOL) care requires effective symptom management. In managing EOL symptom management, family caregivers are crucial. According to recent federal policies, improved family caregiver training and support are essential. For a study, researchers sought to analyze the characteristics of caregivers who are assisting with and reporting difficulty managing symptoms at the end of life and evaluate the characteristics of the caregiver and care recipient associated with the caregiver’s report of difficulty.
Data analysis from the National Study of Caregiving and the National Study of Health and Aging Trends cross-sectionally. Using multivariable logistic regression, the relationship between caregiver difficulty reported by the caregiver and care recipient characteristics was evaluated.
The average age of the caregivers (n = 214) was 57.1 years; 74% were women, and 86% were non-Hispanic white. In 2017, more than 2 million family caregivers helped with symptom management; 78% said it was challenging. The likelihood of carers reporting difficulties was lower for non-Hispanic Black caregivers (aOR 0.24, 95% CI 0.08-0.75), Hispanic caregivers (0.13, 0.03-0.56), and caregivers with less education than a high school diploma (0.26, 0.11-0.63). The likelihood of caregivers reporting difficulties was higher for those whose charges were paid (3.37, 1.30-8.69). Hospice and receiving training and support services (1.80, 0.83–3.93) were not linked to caregiver reports of difficulties (1.83, 0.82–4.07).
The results highlighted the necessity of enhancing family caregiver education and assistance in managing EOL symptoms.