National Health Blog Post Month Day 19 – Top Three Tuesday
Give three pieces of advice you would give to a caregiver.
1. “Secure your mask before helping others” – Yes, the line from the airplane safety presentation, but it’s true for all aspects in life, especially for caregivers. Remember you need to be at your best in order to help others, that includes being physically and emotionally healthy. I will admit my first time being a caregiver was stressful, the hospital care the first night was not as I would have liked. I could have slept overnight in my friends private room but I knew I would not get as good as rest as I needed, and I the next day when I arrived back to the hospital the morning nursing staff had everything in order, my friend was in good spirits and ready to go home. I was well rested and ready to get him settled at home. Seek out a caregiver support group, and try to have back-up help. I know at my last job there was a Caregiver Support Network.
2. Allow the patient to be as self-sufficient as possible – From my experience as both a patient and as a caregiver, both in short term care situations, the more the patient can do for themselves the healthier they are, and you will be also. (See #1) My mom is a nurse, and I am thankful she was able to stay with me after most of my major surgeries. As she would take care of drains, or bandages, she would explain to me what she was doing and why in case I needed to do it myself. Eventually she had me do it myself, I would joke that she was “a bad nurse” and she’d reply back “I’m making you self sufficient, it’s part of your recovery plan”. Of course not every patient is as able as I was, but encourage even small tasks, no one wants to feel helpless. It’s often difficult to accept help at all. I know as a caregiver I appreciated when the patient did for themselves. My friend had a minor unexpected complication, I joked that my nursing fee had increased. However, in actuality they were a great patient. I would arrive with lunch, and they had already emptied drains and documented information. The only thing I needed to do was change bandages in an unreachable area. I would bring over food that just needed to be heated for dinner.
3. Be an Advocate – But do not be a bother. There is a difference between advocating for someone and hounding hospital staff, especially if it’s not the correct hospital staff. Remember healthcare should be a TEAM endeavor. Patient, nurses, doctors all on the same team with the patients health as the goal. If you want respect as a family member or care giver, and you want the patient to get the best care, communicate with calm respect. I know it can be difficult, as with illness many emotions are involved. However, it is key to getting your end goals met. Yes, sometimes you need to be a squeaky wheel but remember a squeak can be still be respectful. I learned a lot from my mom being an RN. I understand the job the RN has, and the many other patients they have to care for in addition to me or my friend.
Sorry I need a another….
4. Make it Official – If you are the main caregiver in a serious medical situation, be sure the patient has given you the authority to make healthcare decision for them. Medical power of attorney, or healthcare surrogate. Do not ASSUME the patient’s wishes or your wishes will be honored at all times. Hospitals have laws to which they have to abide by, and often multiple family members want to chime in on what is best for the patient. Do not put the staff or your family in middle of a fight at a time when the focus should be on the patient.
What advice do you have for caregivers or patients?