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Apr 17, 2019
20 Million Family Caregivers Performing Complex Medical/Nursing Tasks with Little Instruction, Finds New AARP Report

NEW ORLEANS—Half of the nation’s 40 million family caregivers are performing complicated medical/nursing tasks for their family members and friends, including giving injections, preparing special diets, managing tube feedings, and handling medical equipment, according to a new Home Alone Revisited report. In addition, 70 percent of these caregivers are dealing with the stress of managing pain relief in the midst of a national opioid crisis.

Home Alone Revisited: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Care is a special report from the Founders of the Home Alone Alliance℠ (AARP, United Hospital Fund, Family Caregiver Alliance, and UC Davis-Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing). With funding from The John A. Hartford Foundation to the AARP Foundation, the study took an in-depth look at the specific medical/nursing tasks that family caregivers are doing.

“This report shows the extent of complex tasks that millions of family caregivers are providing every day. They are largely alone in learning how to perform these tasks,” said Susan Reinhard, RN, PhD, Senior Vice President and Director, AARP Public Policy Institute. “About half of family caregivers are worried about making a mistake. We need to do a lot more across the health care system—with providers and hospitals—to help support these family caregivers.”

The Home Alone Revisited report found that family caregivers are performing a variety of complex nursing and medical tasks typically performed by trained health care professionals, including:

  • A majority (82 percent) manage medications
  • Almost half (48 percent) prepare special diets
  • Half (51 percent) assist with canes, walkers, or other mobility devices
  • Over a third (37 percent) deal with wound care
  • One third (30 percent) manage incontinence

“Family caregivers are the linchpin in our health care system, particularly for older adults,” said Rani E. Snyder, Program Director at The John A. Hartford Foundation. “This study shines new light on the diversity of family caregivers performing complex tasks—from men to millennials to multicultural populations—and is a rallying cry for an all hands-on-deck approach to creating age-friendly health systems that better support and prepare these often forgotten members of the health care team.”

To read the full report, go to:

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About AARP
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

About The John A Hartford Foundation
The John A. Hartford Foundation, based in New York City, is a private, nonpartisan, national philanthropy dedicated to improving the care of older adults. The leader in the field of aging and health, the Foundation has three priority areas: creating age-friendly health systems, supporting family caregivers, and improving serious illness and end-of-life care. For more information, visit and follow @johnahartford.

Media Contact: Greg Phillips, 202-434-2560,, @AARPMedia