The Caregiver's Journey
Tracy stresses the importance of getting help with caregiving. The group discusses how to ask for help from family, friends, and neighbors and how to coordinate the Home Care Team.
Okay, our next topic is one of the key elements of being an effective caregiver at home. Now, I know that I’ve mentioned this several times over the past few weeks, but I can not stress enough the importance of getting help. Whatever your situation, whatever the condition of your loved one with TBI, you will need help from friends, from family, from neighbors, from all kinds of other people. The first step is to find your helpers. Okay.
I have to admit that I’m not very good at asking for help.
You’re not alone, Megan. Many people find it really tough to ask for help. But think about this. I mean if the tables were turned, and someone you knew needed help, wouldn’t you help them if you could?
Okay. I’ve found that when people offer to help, they usually mean it. So take them up on the offer. You know, Megan, if it’s too difficult for you to ask for help, or if you just don’t have the time, ask a friend or a family member to get the word out for you.
But do keep in mind that it’s important that you feel comfortable with the members of your home care team, in terms of their capabilities, and what level of responsibility you’re comfortable giving them.
There are some specific tips for building your home care team you’ll find that in your Guide for Caregivers. And you’ll also find a Home Care Volunteer form that should come in handy.
Okay, so now you’ve identified your helpers. That next step is to make a list of tasks. Now, remember these are not just responsibilities relating to the care of your loved one with TBI, but things that lighten the load for you and other members of the family. And after you’ve made the list, determine whose skills best match each of the tasks. Now, if you ask your children for help, make sure that the tasks you give them are age-appropriate.
I used to always just do things myself, but since Tom got hurt, I’ve gotten better at asking other people to help. I just don’t have the time that I used to, and with Tom coming home, I know I’ll have even less time.
I’m afraid you’re right, Michelle. As Tom makes that transition home, you’ll find that both your time and your emotional energy may be in short supply. That’s why time management is so essential.
There are times you may feel there’s more to do than you have time and energy for, so you’ll need to do some prioritizing. Decide which tasks need to be done right away and which tasks can wait until later. That way, you can focus on what absolutely needs to be done, and then you can delegate other tasks to your Home Care Team.
Okay, so our next topic is home healthcare, which is when a qualified aide, a nurse, or a therapist provides care for your loved one right there in your home. For example, an aide might assist with bathing and hygiene. A nurse might provide skilled care like changing dressings or reviewing medications.
Yeah, when Sam first came home, his home care nurse and physical therapist were at the house fairly regularly.
Physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists they’re often an important part of that recovery at home. Your case manager can help you determine if you’re eligible for assistance with home healthcare from TRICARE, or from the VA.
Another valuable resource for caregivers is called respite care. You know, no matter how organized you are, over time, those demands of being a caregiver can be exhausting. It can be really important to take a break, and respite care is one way to do that. It offers a break from the demands of caregiving, and it allows you to get things done and to take some time for yourself.
Respite care is available in a variety of forms. In some cases, a companion or a sitter might provide some respite at home. Respite can also be provided outside of the home in an adult day care situation or assisted living or a nursing facility. It can range from just a few hours per day, a week, or short-term placements in residential facilities.
Are respite programs expensive?
Well, that depends on the program, and the benefits you’re eligible for. TRICARE provides respite care for homebound service members on active duty, if they meet specific criteria. But your care coordinator can help you find programs that can help cover any costs.
Information on respite resources can also be found in The National Resource Directory. Military OneSource’s Wounded Warrior Project and other programs are also available to help you find the right respite care for you and your family.
Our case manager told us about the Exceptional Family Member Respite Care Program. It turns out that we qualify.
Oh that’s great, Julie. Another option that some caregivers consider is temporary or more permanent residential care for their family member with TBI. There are different types of residential facilities, ranging from assisted living to those that provide 24-hour skilled nursing care.
If you explore the possibilities of residential care, be sure to check with your case manager, your VA liaison, and your military liaison for the benefits that are going to be available to your family. But you’ll find more information and resources about benefits in your Guide for Caregivers.
Look, I know that I have given you a ton of information, and it’s a lot to process. But you can review the material in your Guide. And next week we’ll continue talking about that transition home, planning for the future. And in the meantime, hang in there.
You’re doing a fantastic job. Thanks for coming. And I look forward to seeing you next time! Okay, have a great week.