Becoming a Caregiver Is Difficult: Tips to Ease the Transition

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Survey after survey finds that when a family member needs care and their adult children take on the role, they're often woefully unprepared. Why is there so much surprise? The fact is that most people who are providing some or all of their parent's care are not trained nurses.

It's unrealistic to expect someone who's never cared for an elderly person or one with dementia to become a competent, nurturing caregiver with unlimited patience who knows about nutrition, medications, bathing, treatments, sleeping and every other aspect of daily life, not to mention all of the financial issues, appointments and housing issues.

A recent study found that 31% of people didn't know what medications their parents were on. I'm surprised that it's not higher.

it's going to be one of those kinds of weekendsUnless there's someone paying close attention and writing down all of the medications, the times that they need to be taken and then making sure that the family member actually takes them, things get missed. When folks are on blood thinners, like Coumadin and Lovenox or some diabetics on Insulin, they also need regular monitoring and dosage adjustments. It's enough to make your head spin.

People who are competent and expert in their own fields, like marketing, teaching, or computer science, didn't study caring as an occupation. And most of us didn't grow up with a grandparent in the home that was being cared for, so we have very little practical experience.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Get a noteboook with tabs to keep track of all the pertinent information;
  • Have a section that lists all surgeries and hospitalizations;
  • Include all diagnosis;
  • Write down all of the medications of the person you're caring for, including vitamins, supplements and over the counter medications;
  • Go through the medicine cabinets and drawers to look for any hidden medications that they may use once in a while;
  • Make a calendar of appointments;
  • Write down your questions, or email them to the providers;
  • Bring this to the next appointment with a health care provider to be sure that everyone has the same information, and
  • If you're in this situation, and are struggling there are lots of resources, including my favorite, Caring.com. I've recommended the site to countless friends and family and have used it myself.

(Disclosure: I don't work with Caring.com and don't receive any financial consideration from them. Caring.com does post on NurseBarb.com each week.)


Follow me on Twitter@NurseBarbDehn.

Photo Credit: booleansplit.

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