The AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) and the United Hospital Fund (UHF) released a report that finds 46 percent of family caregivers perform medical tasks. The report, “Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care,” explores the level of difficulty of the tasks that caregivers perform and challenges the common perception of family caregiving as something that most adults can easily master. 
“We know that family caregivers provide help with activities such as bathing and dressing, shopping, cooking and preparing meals. We also ask caregivers to do things that would make even nursing students tremble; it’s important that we understand the scope of this new normal,” said Susan Reinhard, Senior Vice President and Director of the AARP Public Policy Institute. “As hospitals discharge patients quicker and sicker, we’re finding that family caregivers are responsible for medical and nursing care including medication management and wound care.”
The PPI and UHF report is based on a survey of 1,677 family caregivers who were asked about the specific tasks they perform. There are more than 42 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States and more than a third of these caregivers reported doing wound care.
“The family caregivers in our survey reported that their chronically ill family members were in and out of hospitals and emergency departments. Despite frequent encounters with the acute care system, family caregivers were not prepared for the medical and nursing tasks they were expected to provide at home,” added Carol Levine, Director of Families and Health Care Project for United Hospital Fund. “We asked family caregivers how they learned to manage their family members’ medications, for example, and 61 percent said, ‘I learned on my own.’ Clearly, professionals need to do a better job of training family caregivers.”
Forty percent of the caregivers surveyed reported feeling worried about making a mistake. Because these tasks are becoming more frequent, the report recommends actions including: ensuring that caregivers are well trained and including the caregivers’ needs in the new models of care.
 AARP. “Medication management, wound care part of new normal for caregivers.” Web. October 1 2012.