Taking care of someone – 7 things caregivers must know
Taking care of someone at home can be really challenging, but at the end of the day, it proves to be a very rewarding experience in many ways. When our loved ones need us the most, we have to be there to support them and care for their well-being the best we can.
As in every other domain, information is the key. First, inform yourself about specific aspects and particular requirements for your care recipient’s condition. Besides that, it is always good to hear other people’s practical experiences with the same or similar issues that might help you be more efficient and provide better care. Their tips might come in handy for your daily tasks or when facing crises.
Are you planning on becoming a caregiver, or are you already one? Here are 7 things you must know!
1. What do I have to do to be a caregiver?
Once you have decided to become a caregiver for a loved one, or you simply must accept this role, you need to follow some simple steps. Firstly, you have to document your identity in your care recipient’s medical records officially. It is essential for health care providers to know that their patient is in your care so that they can know who to rely on.
Secondly, you need to take a step back and see the greater picture. Are you the right person for this task? You have to be honest with yourself while assessing if you have the time and the physical strength required to care for a person you love. Often we do not have a choice of choosing or not this role. Speak up when it comes to things you can’t do, and don’t be ashamed to ask people for help and support. Resources are available to us everywhere, so inform yourself properly before you take this step.
2. Do I need any training as a caregiver?
If you are caring for a family member, training is not required, but it is highly recommended, especially in more complex health conditions. Most family caregivers have zero training in non-invasive medical procedures such as changing catheters and bandages. Nevertheless, they are expected to perform these tasks without any problems, even though sometimes they prove very challenging. This is especially the case when caring for a person with cancer or late-stage dementia and Alzheimer’s, as their needs are extended.
Training sessions can only benefit both patients and caregivers, but if you cannot attend such sessions, don’t hesitate to ask the doctor, nurses, and other healthcare professionals for advice and supplementary instructions.
3. What are my primary caregiving responsibilities?
As a caregiver, your primary responsibilities depend upon the person you are taking care of. Your assistance and help may be needed every day or just a couple of times a week regarding your patient’s needs.
Sometimes all you need to do is keep them company, make sure that they stay in touch with the friends and family members, pay the bills, and keep the home clean. From time to time, you may also run some errands.
But most of the time, the caregiver role is a lot more complicated. Often it implies adding up of duties and responsibilities over time. The most important thing you have to do is make sure that your care recipient follows the treatment schedule and takes the medications on time. Do not give any over the counter medicines, but instead call the doctor for advice if they do not feel well.
In some cases, you have to take them to treatments and other doctor appointments so that they won’t miss any. Especially when caring for people with progressive health conditions, caregivers must be extremely attentive. If any strange symptoms appear during or after the prescribed therapy (for example, difficulties in breathing or nausea in cancer patient after a chemo session), the best thing to do is go to an emergency facility.
4. Am I allowed access to my recipient’s medical records?
Caregivers are allowed access to the medical information and records of their loved ones. Even though there are many misconceptions regarding the right to medical confidentiality, you must know that authorized caregivers have the right to be informed. You won’t be able to properly do your duties unless you have all the needed information about your recipient. Moreover, caregivers are usually an indispensable source of the necessary information for healthcare providers.
5. How do I stay informed when taking care of someone?
Information is vital for to caregiving and caring of someone in need, and there are many resources you can count on. Don’t stay on the sidebar. You can contact support centres that provide phone counseling regarding medical care, medication management, COVID-19, and any other information you may need. Also, various support groups and associations are dedicated to and specialized in the specific conditions you are dealing with. They can be a great source of information you need. All you have to do is search for a centre near your location, and make a call when you need help. When you are researching online, be sure to inform yourself from trustful and verified sources. In any case, don’t implement any treatments and practices before consulting and confirming them with your healthcare providers.
6. What can I do to avoid burnout as a caregiver?
Caring for someone, even a loved one, can be very exhausting, both physically and mentally. This is why caregiver’s self-care is essential and must not be neglected. Caregivers need to watch of their body and soul first if they want to help people.
Here are some basic tips that can help you avoid burnout:
- Take time for yourself. Caregivers have their hands full all the time. It’s not a weakness and shame to ask someone else to replace you for several hours, or even a day or two when you need to recharge your batteries. Respite care is always an option.
- Keep in touch with your friends. Maintaining at least a portion of your social life will help you having someone to share your thoughts with and distract you for a while from your routines.
- Pay attention to your feelings. Caregiving can be indeed overwhelming, but you must not neglect your feelings. Talk with your family and friends about everything that is bothering you. Sharing what’s on your mind not only will help you vent out but also you may find another perspective on what is burdening you. Find something to hold on to, whether it is a sports activity, your hobby, watching a movie, or reading a book.
7. How can I keep my loved one safe during the Coronavirus pandemic?
Caregivers must live up to their role, and the current situation only added up to their daily duties. The best way to keep the person you love safe is to keep yourself safe. Precaution is essential, so practice social distancing, wash your hands as often as possible, use hand sanitizer, and most importantly wear a disposable mask. Due to their health conditions, certain people will need to leave home to continue their medical and other treatments. In this case, make sure that both of you are well-protected. You can never be too safe when it comes to COVID-19.
If possible, avoid going to the store by opting for a delivery service instead. You can ask friends or other family members to do these errands for you. It is also better to keep the circle small and limit the visits. It is highly recommended not assigning someone new to take care of the patients during the COVID-19 crisis.
If you decide to take the caregiver role, consider using the digital accessories and apps, such as Gherry App.
It is a mobile app designed to help you and your loved ones in all matters related to health and caregiving. You can use trackers to monitor and record important health points. You can keep track of the medications and manage their intake and stock. It is a great tool to organize your tasks, appointments and documents, keep everyone in your circle updated, and share the burden of duties with them. As a bottom-line, you will be more efficient and save a lot of time.
Caring of someone in need is not easy. Caregivers have a tremendous responsibility on their shoulders. Especially in the current situations when the hospitals and other healthcare facilities are under excessive pressure, their role is crucial and irreplaceable. They are people we have to respect and admire. As a caregiver, you are a starting point simply with your commitment, devotion, and patience. It’s undeniable that there are many difficulties a caregiver must cope with. There are plenty of ways to help ease the caregiving and make daily routines less stressful. Once it is all done with love and done more efficiently, it is no longer such a burden. We hope that these 7 tips on what caregivers must know can help you on your caregiving journey.