In Palliative Care, the unit of care is the patient and their family. Although members of the health care team often address the family caregiver’s opinions and concerns, the focus of care remains on the needs of the patient. The readiness and willingness of the family caregiver is often overlooked as they are expected to assume a complex caregiving role. When family caregivers are not intellectually or emotionally prepared or physically capable, the caregiver is at high risk for serious health issues and cognitive, emotional, and physical decline particularly as caregiving extends over time. Family caregivers are often a neglected and at-risk population. Illustrated through the use of a case study, this article addresses the complex role of family caregivers, as both health team members and second-order patients. It emphasizes the importance of family assessment and interventions to balance the burdens and benefits of family caregiving and protect caregivers’ health and well-being.
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