Are You an Activ Caregiver?
Over the past century, caregiving duties have moved from the purview of doctors and nurses and increasingly fallen upon those with little or no training. Today, there are over 37 million people attending to the health care needs of a relative, partner, friend or neighbor.
Caregiving is a full time job
Caregivers have many roles. They are companions, nurses, legal assistants, financial managers and housekeepers. They dress wounds, dispense medication, feed, bathe and dress those who can no longer do so themselves. In addition to daily activities, 57% of caregivers assist with medical/nursing tasks, such as injections, tube feedings, catheter and colostomy care.
Caregiving duties place tremendous stresses on an individual. On average, caregivers spend 24.4 hours a week providing care to their loved one. Nearly one-quarter provide 41 or more hours of care a week (Caregiving.org). Caregivers spend so much time managing the health of someone else, that they often forget about themselves. But like the airlines teach us, “in the event of a change in cabin pressure,” you put on your oxygen mask before you assist anyone else.
In other words, only when we help ourselves can we effectively help others.
Caregiving can enrich lives, but can also be frustrating and depressing.
Constantly being pulled in different directions can take its toll. Traveling and splitting time between homes is no easy feat, especially when coupled with work. It’s estimated that more than one in six American workers is a caregiver, often from a low-income household. (Gallup Poll)
How to Care for Caregivers
At one time or another, most of us have looked at someone facing a difficult situation and thought, “I don’t know how she does it. I wouldn’t be able to handle it.”
Well, the fact is, not only could we, but given the same circumstances, we would handle it.
But everyone has their limit.
Identifying Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. The symptoms of caregiver burnout are similar to the symptoms of stress and depression, and include:
- Mood swings
- Declining health
- Loss of interest
- Withdrawal from friends and family
Many caregivers feel like they should be able to “do it all,” but they are often so burned out they can’t even imagine how anyone could assist them, or they don’t want to impose.
If you recognize that a caregiver is struggling but aren’t sure how to help, start by volunteering to take care of specific tasks, like cleaning, laundry and shopping, and then do it. Really, anything you do will be appreciated.
How Activ Doctors Online Can Help
Caregivers are constantly making decisions about treatment options, medications and other things for their loved ones. Making those decisions is much easier if you keep track of that data, but tracking that data can be overwhelming.
Technology can be source of hope and support for caregivers. A Pew Survey found that 59% of caregivers with internet access agreed online resources have been helpful to their ability to provide care and support for the person in their care, and 52% indicated that online resources have been helpful to their ability to cope with the stress of being a caregiver.
Personal Health Record Tracking and Coordinating Care
Studies have shown that tracking health data, whether for yourself or a loved one, can inspire you to be more mindful of your own health, ask more insightful questions of doctors, or even seek a second opinion. In all cases, it can lead to improved outcomes.
Activ Doctors Online personal health record makes it easier to organize and track health information online, including:
- Vital Data
- Test Results
- Hospital Visits
Keeping all your health information online provides a convenient place where family, friends and neighbors can go to find out how they can help with caregiving. You’ll be able to share information quickly with doctors, emergency personnel and trusted contacts.
Managing Appointments and Medications
39% of caregivers manage medications for a loved one. (Pew) A drug regimen may change often. It’s important to keep and regularly update a list of all the medications the care recipient is currently taking, including the dosage and frequency along with what the medicine is for. Setting reminders can help keep everything on track.
46% of caregivers say they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. (Pew) But what if you can’t find the answers from Dr. Google? Should you call 911 or can it safely wait until morning?
Being able to talk to a doctor immediately is a reassuring and valuable service.
If your doctor participates, some routine appointments and check-ins can be scheduled as an e-Consultation. These online visits can save everyone time, energy, and money. Studies have found that this real-time communication can improve treatment outcomes and avoid rehospitalizations.
Second Medical Opinions
33% of second-opinion consultations initiated by a patient resulted in a different diagnosis, according to an article published by the European Journal of Surgical Oncology. 50% of those different consultations led to major changes in treatment plan or prognosis.
Hopefully you never need a second opinion, but Activ Doctors Online can give you peace of mind, knowing you can reach a global network of 1,700+ specialists, any time.
Above all, with Activ Doctors, caregivers can manage their own health from the same easy-to-use platform.