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fam·i·ly-cen·tered care(fam'i-lē-sen'tĕrd kār)
Family and friends are increasingly needed to provide patient care. Although researchers have identified the “typical caregiver” as a 46-year-old female with some college education, in actuality anyone in the infirm individual’s circle may be called upon to provide care. The care provided may vary from simply helping with driving or shopping, to managing treatment and medications, to providing assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, feeding, toileting, and transferring the patient, or helping the patient make health care decisions and choices. The health care professional should identify the primary caregiver(s), recognize the level of strain occurring, and develop a partnership to reduce the burden of care and prevent caregiver exhaustion and burnout. In addition to psychosocial support, the family caregiver may benefit from practical instruction about how to perform caregiving activities, never assuming that the caregiver knows what to do or how to do it. Health care professionals should be available to step in when situational demands exceed the family caregiver’s capabilities, and to step back when the family’s support is what is needed most. Caregivers need to seek their own support from family, friends, community agencies, support groups, or/or their faith community.