Disability Among Informal Caregivers Affects Care Recipients’ Use of Preventive Services

Summary: Long-term care for those with disabilities is often provided by informal caregivers. However, these caregivers may themselves have functional limitations such as cognitive, mobility, hearing, and vision limitation, which could affect adherence to recommendations for the care recipients’ medical care. To measure this effect, researchers studied informal care provided to adults with disabilities who were age 50 and over, and its relationship to receipt of preventive health services such as flu vaccination, routine physicals, and cholesterol screening. In a nationally representative sample of 14-million caregiver/care recipient pairs, researchers found that 38 percent of the caregivers had at least one functional limitation. Care recipients received fewer preventive health services if their caregivers reported their own functional limitations. The researchers found that caregiver characteristics such as cognitive, mobility, and emotional limitations reduced the percentage of preventive services received by each care recipient. This association study highlights the importance of informal caregivers maintaining their own health to improve the chances that their care recipient will receive recommended preventative services.

Citation: Thorpe JM, Thorpe CT, Schulz R, et al. Informal Caregiver Disability and Access to Preventive Care in Care Recipients. Am J Prev Med. 2015 Sep; 49(3):370–9. PMID: 26091932