This post can be seen on JoanLunden.com
Many caregivers admit they are just “winging” this whole caregiving thing. And, you know what? That’s okay! There’s no formal training, manual or guidebook to show you how to navigate the everyday healthcare challenges, learn important information about medical conditions and medications, or develop the knowledge and know-how to recognize and prevent emergencies.
Researchers have reported caregivers feel more confident when they acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to provide appropriate care. As a result, they are able to decrease their stress levels because they’ve reduced the uncertainty surrounding the care they provide.
Follow these 6 tips, and you will be on your way to becoming a more confident and less stressed caregiver:
Take Your Parent to See a Geriatrician: Geriatric medicine is the specialty that focuses on the healthcare of older adults. Many age-related changes occur to our overall physiology as we get older, including how fast we metabolize medications. Many primary care doctors do not have advanced training as less than three percent of all medical students have taken just one course in geriatrics
Develop a Method for Coordinating Care Between Doctors: Most likely, your parent sees more than one doctor. While we like to think that doctors talk to one another when they care for the same patient, the reality is that they don’t. Due to a number of factors, doctors are pressed for time now more than ever. Inform and update each doctor about their current health status and all the medications they are taking in order to prevent miscommunication.
Have Your Parent’s Medication List Reviewed: If your parent is on four or more medications they need to have a Comprehensive Medication Review (CMR). A CMR identifies and eliminates medication-related problems. Such problems include side effects, high medication costs, drug interactions, doses that are too high/low, and use of medications for which there is no medical need. The goal of the review is to make sure the medications they are taking are as safe, effective, and affordable as possible.
Stay Alert During Transitions of Care Because they are Dangerous: Transitions of Care occur when your parent is admitted to or released from the hospital, either to go home or to a rehabilitation center, long term care, or skilled nursing facility. During these transitions, medical errors can occur, poor coordination of care can take place, and medications can be removed/added to their medication list in error.
Know the Warning Signs of Medical Emergencies: Often our caregiving journeys begin after an emergency or crisis takes place. But, you can prepare for emergencies by educating yourself on what to look out for. If your parent has high blood pressure or any heart problems you need to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and stroke. If your parent has diabetes, you should also know the symptoms associated with both low and high blood sugar levels.
Practice Fall Prevention: Falls are the number one cause of injury in the senior population and are responsible for over 32,000 hip fractures per year. Inspect your parent’s home for areas of high fall risk, removing any tripping hazards like area rugs. Additionally, medications are the leading cause of falls. If your parent is taking medications that cause side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, tremor or sedation, their risk of falls grows even more.