By PMP Pal Caregiver, Ginny, USA
Ginny has served as a Pal Mentor to other family caregivers for more than a decade. Today she shares the following suggestions for other husbands, wives, families and friends who are caring for a loved one:
In addition to being a good listener and “cheerleader”, the caregiver must be the patient’s advocate, especially during hospitalization.
Mis-communication may occur among doctors, nurses and family members. Mistakes will be made. It is not necessary to have a professional medical degree in order to serve as an advocate for your family member!
Ask questions of the medical staff. Serve as an extra pair of eyes and ears for the patient. When necessary, go to “battle” for your patient, who may be unable to speak for him/herself. Carry a note pad, take notes of questions that you want to ask the medical staff, and keep records.
In order to be a good listener, it’s important to keep the patient involved in his/her care. Patients need to talk about their fears, feelings and pain. Patients need to feel like a human being and not be treated like a non-entity.
While my husband was making important decisions about which course of medical treatment to choose, I was his “sounding board” and listened to the pros and cons, but the final decision was his to make.
Encouraging the Patient
Patient depression may occur, even if the recovery is going well. In addition to being a good listener, the caregiver needs to maintain and calm and positive composure. In my case, this means wearing bright colors when I visit my husband in the hospital, and keep an “upbeat” appearance, even if I am tired.
Lastly, take care of yourself, and, for your own good, maintain a sense of humor!
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Articles posted in PMP Pals and on www.pmppals.org are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for licensed, professional medical care. Patients should seek the council of their licensed healthcare providers. Copyright © 2011 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network/All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at www.pmppals.org