Caregiving is Tough Even for Geriatrics Professionals

The difficulties of caregiving seem to be universal: even specialists in geriatrics can find it hard to deal with in their own lives.



That discovery, by researchers from Boston  Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), appears in the journal Gerontologist.



Sixteen geriatric health care professionals took part in the study, which involved 60- to 90- minute individual interviews. The participants were asked about their dual experiences as geriatrics professionals and personal caregivers.



Investigators found that the professionals had an advantage in their ability to intervene in a way that nonprofessional caregivers couldn’t. But while the result of those interventions were usually positive, the geriatrics professionals were very disappointed if the intervention didn’t work, because they had high expectations for themselves. The caregivers also described the emotional turmoil they felt over using their professional knowledge. And the participants said the the dual “child/health care professional” role had a negative effect on them.  



“Caregivers gladly provided care and felt a strong sense of reward, but there was a significant theme of emotional struggle," explained lead author Clare M. Wohlgemuth, RN, GCNS-BC Nursing Director, Geriatric Services at BMC. The investigators found that, as is true for nonprofessional caregivers, the geriatricians felt emotional exhaustion, guilt and stress from fulfilling both personal and professional commitments.



The study authors said it was important for nonprofessionial caregivers to be given as much help as possible in dealing with an issue that so obviously strains even professionals.



The caregiving issue has enormous financial and societal implications. It costs an estimated $450 billion in the U.S. alone, and more than 60 million Americans are caregivers, according to 2009 figures.



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