Medical advancements and shorter hospital stays have enabled more chronically ill people to age at home. One result is that an increasing burden of responsibility for helping with daily care is falling on family caregivers, who may have taken on their role suddenly, and with little training. Home care is often short-term, but the nurses, rehab therapists, and social workers who come into your home can be invaluable in helping you learn skills and identify resources that will help you for the long-term.
Tips for caregivers to make the most of the time your family member is receiving home care:
- Try to schedule care visits for when you are at home. Even if you can’t be there every time, it’s important to touch base with clinicians periodically. If you work, get the home care nurse’s cell phone number and call to make the connection.
- Know that you are an integral part of your family member’s health care team! Don’t be reluctant to raise questions or concerns. You know your family member best and you will be providing valuable information for staying on top of their condition.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed, admit it to the home care nurse and ask for resources to help you cope. Clinicians can help you learn tasks you’re struggling with and can make referrals to community services.
- Recognize that caregiving can be stressful, and do a self-assessment of how you’re managing. One such tool is from the United Hospital Fund’s questionnaire. You can bring up your results with your home care clinician to open a dialogue about what you need.
Remember: You are in the best position to take care of a family member if you stay healthy and ask for the help you need to do your job.