Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to create a caregiver book

When I was taking care of my dad there came a point where one of my sisters was to take care of him for a few weeks until my mom and I drove a car out the Al-Can to pick up my dad at my sister's place and go for a trip with him in the Lower 48.

Before my sister took my dad, I created a small booklet on the computer that she could take and read so that she was up to speed on what she needed to know about his dietary restrictions and his medications and what to expect from him as she took care of him for a few weeks.

The care only lasted almost a week, but the creation of the caregiver booklet is something that I think any caregiver should consider for when they have someone else taking care of a loved one.

Basically it was a letter from me explaining what the booklet was for.
A page on what my dad liked to eat for snacks.
Information on what he could not eat because of medications or other dietary restrictions.
Some information that was specific to taking care of him, such as how he preferred to be assisted when he transferred from bed to wheelchair and similar things.
A list of what he enjoyed watching on television, and what radio show he liked to listen to as he went to bed at night - with a note that he slept better if he had a nightlight and the radio was left on overnight rather than turned off.

I also included information on his contact information for his primary physician and a basic health history that covered things that might be asked by a hospital, just in case.
A list of what dad's medications were along with information on dosage and what each medication was for.
With that was a standing order from his doctor for a lab test on a few medications that needed their levels monitored by a lab.

Add in a timeline of what can be expected for a few days worth of average care and my sister was armed with everything I could think of that she might need while taking care of our dad.

Even if someone is not taking care of your loved one, I would suggest making up a small booklet that can be kept in an easy to find place so that if something does happen and you need to spend a little time in the hospital or have to go somewhere and leave someone else providing the care you normally provide, you don't have to spend precious time explaining things. The stand-in caregiver can be left a handbook specific to your loved one.

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