Nurses are an important part of the care team for patients with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Typically a friend or relative of the patient, they provide an estimated $470 billion in cost savings to the national healthcare system in 2013 by organizing and administering medications, providing wound care, providing transportation, and fulfilling all other activities of daily living life. The average caregiver spends 24 hours a week caring for their loved one.
The most common conditions affecting patients requiring caregiver support include cancer, dementia, heart failure and stroke (stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability). As physicians, we want to involve caregivers in the medical care of the patient. The caregiver will be the one doing all the legwork at home, and they often know best about their needs.