The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has reported that family caregivers are “routinely marginalized and ignored within the health care system.” With about 18 million family members providing care for senior loved ones, this report is alarming, as it points to the possibility that these seniors are at risk for harm due to possibly inadequate, uninformed family care.
As an at-home caregiver, it can be difficult to speak up on behalf of your senior loved one and feel heard. Our Texas home healthcare providers have compiled a helpful list of things you can do to make sure you’re seen, heard, and given the most appropriate information and resources to help keep your family member safe:
- List your name and contact information in your loved one’s medical records in case of an emergency.
- Inform your loved one’s doctors what you are and are not capable of handling pertaining to his or her care.
- Set reasonable expectations for caregiving. For instance, you cannot be expected to provide care for your loved one while you are working another job, and that will need to be addressed.
- Inquire about training in the senior’s particular care requirements, such as dressing wounds or catheter care.
- Look for and access resources such as disease-specific businesses, the local Area Agency on Aging, and a dependable professional home care agency for supplemental/respite care.
It’s equally important to clearly understand HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations. There is a common misunderstanding that as a result of HIPAA, family members are unable to access their older loved one’s health records. The truth, however, is that if the older person has specified a relative to serve as durable power of attorney for healthcare information, it’s the obligation of doctors and hospital staff to share all medical records with that relative.
The bottom line? Make certain you stand up for yourself and your family member. Richard Schulz of the University of Pittsburgh recommends, “Advocate for your rights and make sure your caregiving contributions are recognized and supported to the extent they can be. You’re an important person in the health care system.”
Looking for a Texas home healthcare company that can be a true partner to you and your family? Contact Heaven at Home Senior Care at 866-381-0500 for even more tips about providing the most beneficial care for your senior loved one, and for assistance in filling in the care gaps with fully trained and knowledgeable at-home caregivers.