This Friday, Feb. 17, is National Caregivers Day, a day dedicated to honoring the people who selflessly take care of patients and family members. Caregivers play a key role in clinical trials by providing essential support to participants. Many people who participate in clinical trials have serious illnesses or chronic health conditions that may make it difficult for them to care for themselves or advocate for their best interests. They may need help remembering to go to their appointments, or they may need transportation to them. As the liaison between the patient and clinical trial team, caregivers relay important information and updates as the trial progresses. They may notice things clinical trial sponsors and site coordinators may not have considered, such as the need for certain accommodations to make it easier for the patient to participate in the trial. This might include using a wearable device instead of daily logs to monitor activity or using virtual check-ins instead of in-person visits. Caregivers are often overlooked or underappreciated. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, 53 million caregivers in the US took care of someone without pay in 2020. More than 60% are women, and 56% are 50 and older. Almost a quarter said caring for someone else negatively impacted their own health, and almost half experienced financial challenges as a result of caregiving. Here are a few ways to show support for the caregivers in your life.
Offer help in practical ways
Caregivers are often juggling many responsibilities, including taking care of children, grandchildren, pets, and an aging spouse at the same time. Anything you can do to lighten their load, whether it’s offering to take their dog to the park to get some exercise, running errands, making a meal or offering a subscription to a meal service, is always appreciated.
Listen and encourage them
Caregiving can be emotionally draining. People often ask about the patient and may not think to ask how their caregiver is doing. Acknowledging the challenges they’re experiencing and taking the time to ask how they’re coping can help them feel comfortable sharing. Be willing to listen and ask follow-up questions, even when you don’t know how to respond. Remind them they are doing important work, and you’re here for them.
Share information and resources
Caregivers don’t always know where to look for help. Local support groups, online resources, financial assistance programs, or other health resources can be a lifeline. A caregiver also may not realize their patient or loved one may qualify for a clinical trial to receive treatment for a specific condition. Technology such as the NeighborhoodTrials mobile app can help caregivers find clinical trials close to home for their family member or patient. Caregivers play an important role in clinical trials by supporting participants, facilitating communication with clinical trial teams, and providing valuable feedback. Take some time to thank a caregiver today on National Caregivers Day, and find ways to support them all year.