Big events in life are often marked by ceremonies and rituals, notes Next Step in Care. A wedding makes you a spouse. A graduation acknowledges your educational achievements. A naming ceremony celebrates the birth of a child. Even a funeral is an event, marking the loss of someone you love. “But when you become a family caregiver, there are no ceremonies or rituals. No one congratulates you. No one even asks if you want to become a caregiver, or tells you what it might mean.”
Are you, in fact, a caregiver? Yes, if you:
- take care of someone with a chronic illness or disease
- manage someone’s medications
- talk to doctors and nurses on someone’s behalf
- help bathe or dress someone who is frail or disabled
- take care of household chores and meals for someone who cannot do this alone
- take care of someone’s bills
Many sons, daughters, partners, or spouses don’t like saying they are caregivers, afraid that their basic relationship to the family member will mean less. Some might feel they are not doing anything special enough to warrant a “title”.
If you’re the one taking care of someone, it’s important to actually call yourself – and to see yourself as – a caregiver, Next Step in Care advises. Why? As a caregiver, you have the right to:
- be given information about your family member’s condition
- be involved in decision-making about your family member’s care
- be trained to provide care
Next Step in Care suggests you embrace and act upon certain priorities now that you’ve become a caregiver:
- Learn all about your family member’s condition and the treatments that have been recommended.
- Find out what insurance pays for and what it doesn’t. Is your family member eligible for public programs, such as Medicaid?
- Review or create legal documents, including an advance directive and health care proxy. You may need a durable power of attorney for financial affairs.
Embracing the name “family caregiver” has become even more important in Indiana. The CARE Act, a law that just went into effect January 1st of this year, now provides better assistance for the 1.3 million Hoosiers who care for loved ones. (The acronym CARE stands for Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable.)
At Geyer Law, we hail this legislation as a real landmark. The three main benefits include:
- When a loved one is admitted for treatment to a hospital or rehab facility, the name of his/her caregiver must be recorded.
- When patients are discharged to either another facility or to their home, the caregiver must be notified.
- The facility must provide instructions about the medical tasks the caregiver will need to perform.
Many people say, “I’m not a caregiver, I’m a daughter, son, partner, or wife,” Next Step In Care explains. (They may be afraid that if they acknowledge their caregiving role, their basic relationship to their family member will mean less to both of them). This fear is understandable, but not realistic. You will always be a daughter, son, husband, or wife, but now you’re taking on a new, very important and very loving role – family caregiver!
– by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer blog team