You want to be a steady foundation for a loved one who has undergone a medical procedure or dealing with an illness. But balancing the demands of your own life with the responsibilities of caregiving isn’t easy. A few simple organizational steps will make managing a patient’s care a much smoother process for everyone involved.
Organize all important paperwork related to the hospital stay, including prescriptions, health insurance and billing statements.
List the contact information for all healthcare providers, including specialists and rehabilitation therapists.
Keep all relevant medical information in one easily accessible place. This includes a list of medications, lab results and instructions for post-treatment care.
Consider inviting a nurse to spend some time with you to teach you how to do tasks like feeding, bathing and dressing your loved one.
Sometimes you need to be a little assertive to get the information you need to best care for your loved one. Make a list of questions and take it with you to ask the healthcare provider. If you’re not confident that you have the information you need to provide adequate care, don’t leave until you are.
We give caregivers the care they need, too.
It’s important to take some time off if you find yourself in a long-term caregiving situation. The role can be exhausting and caregiver burnout is common. But if you plan ahead, you can stop problems before they become overwhelming.
Consider joining a support group. In a support group, you’ll find others who know what you are dealing with and can help you process intense feelings or discuss problems in a safe, private environment.
Check with our staff, other health organizations or search online to find the support that works for you. If you’re one of the millions of Americans caring for an older adult, you can call (561) 650-6220 or visit www.eldercare.gov to locate a service in your area for you or your loved one. There are also caregiving websites like http://www.caregiveraction.org and www.caregiver.org.
Don’t be shy about accepting help from friends, family members, neighbors and even co-workers. Be willing to assign specific responsibilities to maximize their contribution and get some much-needed peace of mind.
From time to time, you will need to rest or rally your spirits. Something as simple as going for a short walk can recharge your batteries and reduce your risk of burnout. If things get to be too stressful, consider having a social worker arrange for a home health aide or respite care, either option can free you of care obligations without sacrificing your loved one’s needs.