Caregiver Preparedness: Caring for Older Adults after a Traumatic Injury

Christina Sheu, BA
Department of Surgery
Division of Trauma, Burn and Surgical Critical Care
Poster Overview

Background: Older patients hospitalized for a traumatic injury often depend on informal caregivers for help with daily activities, medical care, and emotional support. The preparedness to provide care has not been studied, so we aim to characterize caregiver preparedness.

Methods: Informal caregivers who were ≥18 years, English-speaking, and family or friends of older (≥65 years) patients admitted to 2 Boston Level I trauma centers, completed phone surveys 1-4 weeks after patients left the hospital, including the 8-question Preparedness for Caregiving Scale with preparedness responses chosen from a 5-point scale: 0 = not at all, 1= not too well, 2 = somewhat well, 3 = pretty well, 4 = very well.

Results: 72 caregivers, mean age = 60.4 years, 62.5% female, and mostly patients’ children (44.4%) were surveyed from 12/30/2019 to 9/21/2020. The average score of individual questions show caregivers feel least well prepared for handling the stress of caregiving (2.65, SD=0.85) and taking care of patients’ emotional needs (2.69, SD=1.02).

Conclusions: Specific aspects of caregiving, particularly emotional support and stress, identify opportunities for improving caregiver preparedness. Providing additional support to informal caregivers may reduce their risk for poor health outcomes.

Scientific Abstract

Background: Geriatric trauma patients often rely on informal caregivers for daily activities, medical care, and emotional support after hospital discharge; however, caregiver preparedness for this role has not been studied. We aim to characterize caregiver preparedness.

Methods: Informal caregivers, defined as family or friends providing unpaid, post-discharge care, ≥18 years and English-speaking, of older (≥65 years) trauma patients admitted to 2 Boston Level I trauma centers, completed phone surveys 1-4 weeks post-discharge, including the validated 8-question Preparedness for Caregiving Scale. Responses were provided using a 5-point Likert scale for preparedness: 0 = not at all, 1= not too well, 2 = somewhat well, 3 = pretty well, 4 = very well.

Results: 72 caregivers, mean age = 60.4 years, 62.5% female, and mostly patients’ children (44.4%) were surveyed from 12/30/2019 to 9/21/2020. Calculated mean scores of individual questions show caregivers feel least well prepared for handling stress of caregiving (2.65, SD=0.85) and patients’ emotional needs (2.69, SD=1.02).

Conclusions: Specific caregiving preparedness domains, particularly emotional support and stress, identify opportunities for targeted interventions. Providing additional support to improve preparedness may reduce caregivers’ risk for adverse outcomes.

Clinical Implications
Additional support for caregivers is an important factor for bettering the care patients receive after leaving the hospital, as well as reducing negative consequences caregivers may face, such as depression, anxiety, and social isolation due to their responsibilities.
Research Areas
Authors
Christina Sheu, BA; Claire M Sokas, MD; Masami T Kelly, MA; Emma Kerr, BS; Zara Cooper, MD, MSc
Principal Investigator
Zara Cooper, MD, MSc

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