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Family caregiving and compassion fatigue: A literature review

As the population ages, there is a growing need for families and friends to support frail older adults in their home. Although many family caregivers report feeling satisfied with their caring role, a growing number of caregivers also feel physically, emotionally, and financially drained by the experience. The purpose of this literature review is to explore the experience of compassion fatigue (CF) among family caregivers, and to suggest strategies to combat this possible consequence of caregiving. A literature search was conducted using the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PubMed, and ProQuest databases. In total, six English peer reviewed articles related to CF and family caregiving were identified for review. Although there are few studies available on this topic, the literature suggests that CF is a concern for this group of caregivers. Caregivers were found to be consumed by a sense of responsibility to support their relatives, and they showed signs of hopelessness, guilt, resentment, and social isolation. To combat CF, we advocate implementing a systems management approach, which would bring together all healthcare stakeholders to support family caregivers and those they care for.

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Canadian Gerontological Nursing Association
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