“Care for the Family Caregiver”

The National Alliance for Caregiving updated its “Care for the Family Caregiver” brochure in 2010 and it has a new location on the web.  See:


Care for the Family Caregiver: A Place to Start
March 2010 edition
Prepared by EmblemHealth and National Alliance for Caregiving

These are (still) the best sections:

“Helpful Tips for Family Caregivers: A Place to Start,” page 18  (page 22 of PDF)

“Caregiver Training,” page 20  (page 24 of PDF)

“Caregiver Health: Taking Care of Yourself,” page 27  (page 31 of PDF)

“Caregiver Resource Guide: Where to turn for help,” page 37  (page 41 of PDF)

I’ve copied below the section on “Helpful Tips for Family Caregivers: A Place to Start.”


Excerpt from
Care for the Family Caregiver
Helpful Tips for Family Caregivers: A Place to Start
National Alliance for Caregiving
March 2010

Caregiving can require an enormous physical and emotional commitment, as well as some basic skills. The pages that follow provide tips and information on where to start.

* Create a safe environment at home.

Conduct a home safety inspection of your loved one’s home or your own if you are caring for someone there. For example, check for adequate lighting, install grab bars in the bathroom and hook up a cordless phone for emergencies.

Home safety checklists are available on the Internet and from the AARP. (Go to www.aarp.org, and search Home Safety Caregiving Checklist.)

* Get caregiver training.

Seek out educational resources in caregiving. (See the Caregiver Training section that follows.) For example, learn the correct way to transfer a loved one from a bed to a wheelchair. This can help you avoid serious injury to yourself and the person for whom you are caring.

In addition, learn how to properly bathe someone with mobility problems. This can reduce the risk of hospitalization for chronic sores and infections.

* Maintain medical records.

Keep a current, complete list of all medications and physicians, along with notes on medical history. Be sure to take this if you accompany your loved one to doctors’ visits.

Most care recipients (93%) take at least one prescription drug. It’s important to keep a list of all medications the care recipient is currently taking. Be sure to also record the dosage or strength, such as 10 mg; for what condition the drug is taken; and how often it is taken, such as twice a day. A drug regimen may change often, so be sure to make regular updates. Pharmacists in particular are valuable resources for medication information.

If your loved one has access to a personal health record (PHR), use it to record symptoms, doctor visits, medications and other important health information.

* Learn about the disease.

Find out all you can about the disease the care recipient has, its treatments and the prognosis. Armed with this information, you and your family will have a better idea what to expect in the future and how you can help. This information can help you with planning.

* Learn how to communicate with healthcare professionals.

In order to be a better advocate for your loved one, understand and use the terminology that doctors, nurses, discharge planners, therapists and other health care professionals use in discussing the case. Be calm but firm in advocating for being a part of the health care and support service decision-making team.

* Minimize stress, especially during holidays.

Holidays can be especially stressful for both caregivers and care recipients. Try to reduce stress, simplify activities, relax, slow the pace and ensure that there is plenty of quiet time to reminisce.

* Get the extended family involved in caregiving.

Organize and hold a family meeting involving all decision makers. Identify and discuss the issues of providing care for the family member in need.

* Ask for help with household activities.

Seek help with yard work and other household tasks. Consider asking a friend or neighbor for help. Hire someone to mow the lawn. Look into delivery services for groceries or drugstore items.

* Delegate to friends and family.

Remember, be specific when asking for help from family and friends: “Can Jill come for a couple of hours on Saturdays to stay with Grandma while I do the shopping?” or “Can George mow the lawn every other week now that Dad can’t do it any longer?”

* Manage your time.

Keep an appointment book or calendar to schedule your daily activities, including doctors’ visits. Some computer programs or personal devices can help you schedule and manage your time. Consider using an online calendar you can share with other family members on the Internet, such as Google Calendar.

* Seek help that meets your situation.

Each caregiving situation is unique. For example, if you care for someone who is not living with you and lives a long distance away, you may face special logistical, financial and emotional challenges. Seek out resources that meet your special long distance needs; for example, consider using a geriatric care manager.