The biopsychosocial ramifications of dysphagia are widespread. However, its influence on informal caregivers and families is often overlooked. Ultimately, the health and well-being of an entire family is central to care provision. This tutorial introduces readers to the current literature on dysphagia-related caregiver burden and third-party disability, illustrates the consequences of such burden on both caregivers and patients, and suggests strategies for better supporting patients' informal caregivers.
It is essential that speech-language pathologists recognize that the consequences of dysphagia are not limited to the impairment itself and acknowledge dysphagia's substantial impact on the entire family system. More general health care literature suggests that asking caregivers individual questions, modifying the language used to talk with them, providing them with targeted education and resources, and organizing support groups may all be beneficial for increased perceived support and self-efficacy. Ultimately, in order to best meet the needs of our patients with dysphagia, we must also better meet the needs of their families and other informal caregivers.