Make a List; It’s Not Christmas in July

One of the most effective methods of organizing things is usually to start out by making a list. When caring for a loved one, there are many things to list and many things that must be checked twice. It’s not Christmas in July; but, let’s begin the process of caregiving by making lists like it is.

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First off, many people are completely unprepared to provide full-time care to a  loved one. A lot of times, the role comes as a surprise to everyone involved. It wasn’t until just recently that states began passing legislation and policy to help those individuals who needed support in order to care for their loved ones. The language includes in hospital training and disease training for the caregiver before the care recipient is discharged from a facility. This way the individual doesn’t come out of a facility into a situation where they’d not have access to adequate in-home care.  

But, there are steps a new-found caregiver can take in order to gain some insight on the whole process. 

A Care Plan for Your Loved One

Before the person gets out of the hospital ask the nursing or doctor staff what the steps are for a successful transition back home. Get the social worker involved in any rehab after care and ask if insurance covers things that will be needed; such as a commode, a hospital bed or adult diapers. Also, be sure to do some self-help research as well. Caregivers tend to take on the entire load of a loved one’s transition back into the home. Many times their own health can be compromised due to the stresses involved in a person’s care coordination. 

Chronic or On-Going Care Assessment

If a person has a chronic condition, odds are the amount of daily care will increase, opposed to decrease. It can sometimes be hard to mentally and psychically prepare for. Usually, someone with Alzheimer’s, or a similar age or brain related disease, needs consistent round the clock care. It’s best to begin some research on the disease upon diagnosis. Even if it’s hard to digest. Being in the know is better than living in a stage of ambivalence or denial. Sometimes it hurts so bad to see our loved one deteriorate, but keeping a level head is the best thing any caregiver can do for themselves and their loved one. Why? Well, because they have to be able to hear and digest a million things all while having the ability to provide fore site to medical staff.

Effective Communication

This one is so easy. Talk. A lot. Don’t leave the care recipient in the dark, and ask them in turn, to not leave you in the dark. No matter how bad they feel. Even if you get a thumbs up, or a thumbs down, for the entire day. Keep the lines of communication open. 

Prioritize Yourself 

This is a good list. It’s one for the caregiver. It’s one they can make to prioritize “me” time on a daily basis. Even if it’s fifteen minutes of personal Zen. It’s important to make time for yourself. Caregiver burnout is a real thing. Caregivers focus so much on their loved one they forget to take care of their own needs. This goes from taking a shower, to working out or taking a walk, to doctors appointments. Even eating properly can become a chore because they’re so burnt out. Caregiving is usually more often than we’d like to admit a thankless job. But, the reward comes with knowing your loved one is getting the best care out there. The care is coming from YOU

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End of Life Care

Making a person as comfortable as possible should really be the main component on this list. In that case, maybe a mind-map would be better for organizing priorities. It’s important to know how the person wants to see their last days. This can be a priority on the mind-map. Do they want to be in a facility? Do they want to be at home? Do they want complete medical interventions for pain management? These are all good questions to ask. They are hard questions, but it’s okay to try to coach the person into the mental mindset they want to be in during end of life stages. 

And lastly, please, please, pluuueeaaassee find a support group. No matter how alone a caregiver may feel; odds are there is someone out there who is going through something similar. Support groups are known to 

 

-Andy

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