Each year, more than 65 million people in the United States (29% to 39% of the population) provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member or friend.1 Such caregivers, who help with both basic life functions and managing medical care, are critical to helping people maintain their health and remain in their communities.2 Many chronically ill and older people also have loved ones who, distinct from caregivers, serve as “care partners.” These care partners do not provide day-to-day care or serve as surrogate decision makers but do help navigate health care—facilitating communication with physicians, discussing complex issues requiring shared decision making, and assisting with challenging self-management tasks. The care partner or partners may include a spouse, parent, friend, or relative who assists with health, perhaps across geographic distance.
Sarkar U, Bates DW. Care Partners and Online Patient Portals. JAMA. 2014;311(4):357-358. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.285825