Being a caregiver can be one of the most stressful and rewarding opportunities in your life. Whether you are a professional caregiver, or acting as caregiver for a family member or loved one, There are nine things you should know when serving as a patient’s caregiver.
1- Know the Patient’s Medical History
It is essential that you learn everything that you can about the patient’s medical history. This information can be crucial to quality continued care. You should have a complete list of their doctor’s and all necessary prescription information. This information should include dosages and dosage times.
2- Have a Contact List
Have a list at your disposal for all necessary contact information. This list should include the name and relationship of close friends or family members, doctors and the name and address of the preferred pharmacy. It is also a good idea to have the contact information of the management office of their apartment building, housing managers and clergy.
3- Know Your Back-up Plan
Most patients will have a primary caregiver, but is important that there are others on hand in case a backup plan is needed. If you are a family member providing care, enlist in the help of others. Although many people do not volunteer to help with a full-time commitment, but there may be people who are willing to offer assistance if asked.
4- Know the Expectations and Priorities
To know what is expected on both sides of the patient/caregiver relationship will require a bit of communication between both parties. Knowing expectations and responsibilities can eliminate misunderstandings and unnecessary stress in the future.
5- Know the Available Services
There are services available to assist in patient care. A support system could include additional home care, adult day services, laundry or meal preparation and household tasks.
6- The Patient May Need an Attorney
If you are responsible for the care of an elderly patient, it is important to know that more than 25 percent of elders will not be capable of making their own end of life decisions. An elder care attorney can help ensure that all the right documentation is in place that specifies who is in charge of financial matters, how assets should be used for healthcare or if the patient’s property should be placed in a trust. There are many details to be considered.
7- It is Normal to Feel Burned Out Sometimes
For the family caregiver, or for the seasoned professional, feeling overwhelmed or burnt out can happen. Being responsible for the health and the care of another person is a lot of responsibility and can be trying at times. It is important to maintain balance in your life. The caregiver cannot provide the best possible care when they are not taking care of their own needs as well. Make time to do the things you love to do. Find something for yourself outside of the role of being a caregiver. You and your patient will benefit.
8- Be Knowledgeable About Medical Conditions
If you are responsible for the care of another person, it is important to know the details of their condition, not just the symptoms. When you know what to expect, you will be more confident in your ability to provide quality care. You will also have a better understanding of any behavior changes to expect, or you may learn new ways to combat symptoms.
9- Know the Signs of Depression
Providing care may be hard on the caregiver, it is also hard for the patient. Depression is more than a negative disposition or sadness. Depression is caused by a serious change in brain chemistry and can also be a side effect of several medications. Feelings of worthlessness, pessimism or guilt, can indicate depression. Changes in sleep habits, appetite and energy levels can also indicate that depression may have taken hold. If your patient is showing signs of depression, you may need the assistance of a mental health care provider for treatment assistance.
Become a caregiver is not a simple process. Knowing the patient’s medical history, as well as contact information should additional assistance become necessary, is vitally important. There are many ways to offer care and support. When you are well prepared, you are on your way to ensuring that your patient has consistent quality care.