The Caregiver's Journey
Listen as the group and Tracy discuss managing care at home. Learn about the importance of developing a master schedule, organizing medications, tracking treatments, and organizing caregiving tasks.
Now, once your home is modified and those required assistive devices are in place, what’s next? Well, remember since people with TBI do best with structure and consistency, we’ve talked about that before, your healthcare team will help you write a master schedule before he comes home. That will help you so much if you stick to the schedule, so you don’t have to rely on your memory. You’ll find a sample schedule in your Guide for Caregivers.
And along with the master schedule, you’ll also want to make sure you have a written list of all the therapy and all the exercises that will be done at home, including diagrams or pictures of each step. Really helpful.
I was glad that I was part of Sam’s PT all along, because I was familiar with most of his exercises. Still, it’s nice to have diagrams to remind me of exactly what to do, or to show someone else how to help Sam, when I’m not around.
I’m helping with the physical therapy, too, and so are some of Sam’s buddies from school and from his unit. So every week I put together some sort of a chart to keep it all organized.
That’s great, Julie. Organization, it’s critical; it’s so important to a successful transition home. Michelle, when Tom comes home, you’ll need to be ready to manage his medications, track his treatments, organize all the caregiving tasks among the family and friends.
But let’s focus for a minute on managing your loved one’s medications. It’s so important to keep track of what medications are being taken and when. So when you leave the hospital or the treatment facility, be sure you get a copy of the discharge instructions. That will include a list and a schedule for all the medications your family member is taking. And when you pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy, match your drugs to the list, and be sure that you have written instructions for each and every medication.
And if you’re not sure about a medication, be sure and ask what that medication is for, you know what it does, and what to do if you miss a dose. Now, make sure you know when and how to administer each and every drug. Also, be aware of what to do if there are any side effects caused by the medication.
I’ve tried to keep track of every single drug that Tom’s been given since this whole thing started. I’ve collected a lot of paperwork, but I like knowing that I can go back and check something, if I need to.
That’s an important part of being a good caregiver and a good advocate, Michelle. And there are some other things you can do to manage Tom’s medications. For example, always inform all the members of your health care team of any drug or other allergies that he may have.
Also, you need to keep an up-to-date medication log, and make sure the healthcare providers are aware of all the different medications he's taking. Now, the log should include all the over-the-counter medications. All the things he takes, anything like antacids, pain relievers, supplements, energy drinks, herbal products, since there might be some possible side effects or harmful interactions. Carry that medication log with you every time you have a medical appointment.
Now, in terms of administering medications, you might want to use something like this, the seven-day pillbox like this. It will help you keep things organized, make sure your family member takes things on time.
Never, ever stop the medication or adjust the dosage on your own; always consult your doctor first. Your family member with TBI should NEVER take any medication without prior approval from his healthcare provider.
You’ll find a medication log in your Guide for Caregivers that will help you keep track of your loved one’s medication. The log will also come in handy for tracking any side effects. Be sure to ask the doctor which side effects are serious, and then call your doctor immediately, if they occur.
And you can also use the comments section of the medication log to write down the results of lab tests. You want to be sure to always take the log to appointments with healthcare providers.
I have to admit that this really scares me. I haven’t even really thought about doing PT or being responsible for Clay’s medications. I mean, I don’t want to hurt him …
I know what you mean, Megan. You know, we’ve been at Tom’s side for the past few months, but that’s been at the hospital, where we always had someone to ask “What’s next?” At home, there’s not going to be anyone there to ask. There’s just so much to do.
You know, that’s true, Michelle, but I know you guys are up to the task. And Megan, the healthcare team will be there to explain everything to you. They’re going to make sure you know exactly what needs to be done. You won’t be alone. Clayton won’t come home until everything’s absolutely ready.
Okay, let’s take a short break. When we come back we’ll talk more about how to get help with your caregiving. Okay.