November is National Caregiver Month all across the United States. OneCallAlert wants to express our gratitude to the estimated 90 million men, women, and children caring for a loved one with a disability, medical condition, special need or a situation brought on by aging.
The position of acting as a caregiver is both demanding and rewarding. It’s a journey that can last a few days or a few decades depending on the situation and the circumstances. And things can change in an instance or very slowly over time.
It’s important to understand the 4 Levels of Caregiving:
- Independent Care
- Transitional Care
- Full-time Family Care with Professional Support
- Full-time Professional Care with Family Support
The first level of caregiving is where the caregiver is only needed on a very limited basis. It commonly occurs when a parent or loved one is advancing in age, but still living independently. They may need help with general cleaning, maintenance, and food preparation.
When it comes to support, caregivers can do a lot to enable their loved one to “age in place.” It helps to have a schedule to check in and coordinate with friends and neighbors to make sure everything is okay. It’s also important to do a periodic safety assessment of the living space installing grab bars and retrofitting rooms for easy access. For added security, explore emergency responses options in case the unexpected happens.
At this level caregivers need to increase their involvement to support their family members or loved one. The situation requires further care, as full independence is no longer possible. There is more reliance on day-to-day needs and may require the caregiver to take responsibility for managing appointments, schedules, transportation, and money management. This level requires additional time and responsibility, and the caregiver will notice that a shift has occurred.
It’s good to make sure all legal affairs are in place or updated, such as power of attorney, living will, and other estate planning. It is also wise to research programs that provide support such as home health aides and other services to help with general life maintenance.
Full-time Family Care with Professional Support
Full-time family care with professional support can be the biggest adjustment for caregivers and loved ones due to the potential need for round the clock care. Oftentimes medical conditions arise and caregivers need to move a loved one into their own home. This can be for a short after recovering from a surgery, or indefinitely due to a long-term issue. There are many diseases that can’t be diagnosed until the patient is already in a later stage. Lung cancer and a similar cancer like mesothelioma typically have unspecific symptoms, making them extremely difficult to diagnose early; so by the time an official diagnosis can be made, the patient is already facing a difficult prognosis and requires more full time care where professional support is needed.
It is important to have a network of care providers including aides, nurses, physical therapists, and other medical professionals who will do home visits. This network is invaluable in supporting the full-time family caregiver in facing new challenges.
It’s good to make sure that your residence is ready for the needs of the family member. This could include retrofitting rooms and bathrooms as well as purchasing care equipment such as hospital beds, wheelchair ramps, and grab bars.
Full-time Professional Care with Family Support
This level can be the hardest for caregivers to face due to the guilt that comes in admitting to the need for professional care. This can take the form of rehabilitation centers or nursing homes. If loved ones are no longer safe in their own homes and they are too much for caregivers to handle, a facility may be the best option. Family members become support and comfort, while full-time caregiving is done by professionals.
The role of family caregiver is to monitor the care their loved one is receiving and act as an advocate on their behalf. All of the same day-to-day personal care responsibilities exist, and now they must be effectively managed by the facility while monitored and supported by the caregiver.
In collaboration with Brent Sears