Highly Effective Caregivers

7 Smart Habits of Highly Effective Caregivers

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  • Take Your Oxygen First!

Join a support group for caregivers and make time to engage in other activities to balance your caregiving duties with your personal body, mind & spiritual needs.  It’s important for you to have a place to vent and deal with your feelings.  Above all, don’t forget that you are human.

  • Ask Questions and GET ANSWERS

Learn as much as you can about your caree’s primary disease and underlying conditions.  In the long run, your loved one’s medical team will appreciate the fact that you are informed and be more willing to share information with you.

  • Be the Go-To Contact (or support the one who is)

If you are in the position of being the primary caregiver, make yourself known as the go-to person for your caree’s medical team to confer with regarding your loved one.  Having one family member as the primary contact enables you to be an effective liaison between your family and your loved one’s medical team.  If possible, set up regular meetings or conference calls with a social worker or geriatric care manager for other family members to voice their concerns.  

  • Get the Training You Need

Should there be necessary medical procedures you are expected to perform with which you are not familiar or confident in doing, it is your right to be trained in how to do them.  Don’t be shy about asking for help – ever.  As the backbone of long-term care in the US, the ACA has a provision for this.  

  • Communicate with Your Loved One

Spending quality time with someone who is ill is a not-so-random act of kindness. It is the part of effective caregiving that has the most impact on your caree’s quality of life (and your serenity).  Most of us don’t like not being able to do things for ourselves.  Having to depend on others for basic necessities can make some people downright ornery and difficult to deal with.  You can assist in making your loved one more accepting of their situation by treating them with kindness and respect, especially when they are working your last nerve!  Let them know they are not alone and encourage them all along the way.  

  • Ask for help when you need it

Rely on your village.  Just as your loved one is not alone, neither are you.  You are not an island.  Do not isolate. Use all available resources to assist you.  Don’t have a village?  Well now you get to create one.

  • Live Your Life!

Your life is not over when you become a caregiver; it’s just different. Giving care to a sick, frail or disabled loved one is not your only life’s work.  It might be what you presently do, but it is not the be all and end all of who you are.  Your life is what you make it; choose wisely!

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About the Author

Dr. Jamie Huysman

Jamie Huysman, PsyD, LCSW is Vice President of Provider Relations and Government Affairs at WellMed Medical Management, a UnitedHealth company. He has almost 30 years of medical and behavioral health experience in nonprofit and for profit corporate leadership roles in both hospital and managed care environments. He co-founded the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation that created a new level of care for caregivers around the country and received Florida' Social Worker of the Year Award for that work in 2008. Since 1992, his program, TV AftercareTM has provided millions of dollars worth of follow-up care for talk, court and reality show guests. He co-authored the acclaimed Take Your Oxygen First: Protecting Your Health & Happiness While Caring for a Loved One with Memory Loss and was featured in The 100 Mile Walk: A Father and Son on a Quest to Find the Essence of Leadership, Voices of Caregiving and Voices of Alcoholism. Dr. Huysman writes for Caregiver SOS, Florida MD and Today's Caregiver magazines and blogs on PsychologyToday.com.

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