Caregivers taking on more of a medical role without necessary training

A caregiver holding a person's hand.
Photo credit Lighthaunter/Getty Images
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Millions of Americans are caring for sick family members and nearly half of them are performing complicated medical tasks. 

A family member is sick, so you're giving them medications, making sure they eat special meals. Then you give them the required injections, but you have no medical training.

This is the reality for millions of Americans, according to Susan Reinhard, senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute. 

She says the number one thing a caregiver needs is a phone number. 

"If it's not the physician or nurse practitioner or pharmacist can be very helpful in that particular case to know where you can call for help. Many hospitals - because we have enacted in 42 states the care act - that before you leave you must be given instructions if you want them. They need to give you a number to call and that's starting it happen," she said. 

She urges caregivers to ask a lot of questions, make sure you're comfortable with the correct way to perform medical tasks and take advantage of every support that's available.