How To Do Things

Helping you Know How to do Things

Learning How to Do Things on Your Own 

     The more you know how to do things, the better prepared you are to face what is ahead when alone. No one expects you to be an expert; however, caregivers perform more clinical care at home now than ever before.


Care at Home is More Complex

     A report co-sponsored by AARP and The National Alliance for Caregiving found a significant increase in the degree of illness of those receiving care at home since 2015. Related to that, caregivers showed a corresponding rise in declining health related to caregiving activities.


Tasks Required are Same as Hospital Procedures

     With the increase in the complicated care of family members, caregivers must learn how to manage IV equipment, monitor respirators, provide home dialysis, put in tubes, and take them out again. The expectations for hospital and home care seem almost the same at times.


Caregiving is a 24/7 Job    

     Though family caregivers become semi-experts after many weeks of performing homecare duties, they initially feel overwhelmed and alone. Home health agencies provide wonderful support, but their employees are in the family’s home, maybe an hour.  After that hour, the family is on their own.  If there is a problem, they just “wing it” until someone calls them back. Family members are also not professionally trained caregivers. When learning a new skill, it helps to have a coach or instructor who gives you feedback and support.


     Caregivers need someone to call who knows how to adapt a situation to the home environment. If they had a voice on the other end to discuss their concerns, someone they knew who understood their situation, it would give them reassurance and peace. It’s that peace of mind that I want to offer with this website–that “connection” with your world.


Resources on How to do Things When you Need Them Most

     Throughout this website, you will find information about how to do things that caregivers face daily at home. Sometimes it’s information about how to perform the treatment. On other pages, you’ll find essential information about a medical condition. You might read about how to identify warning signs of danger when to call the doctor, or how to correct a problem when you find it. I’ve shared information on treatments, medications, products that work, what to do, and what not to do.  I’ve covered topics I thought might help a new caregiver with limited knowledge of healthcare. I plan to add more as I hear from readers what they would like to see. Please share your suggestions with me using the contact form.

Family Caregivers Need Help Learning How to Do Things

Family Members Receive Limited Training on How to do Things Before Discharge Home.

      I have been in healthcare long enough to know that most nursing staff do not have sufficient time to spend training patient family members to become caregivers. Nurses spend, too, much time documenting regulatory requirements, meeting professional obligations, or dealing with staffing limitations. At best, they only have time to review the critical points with patients before sending them home with a few brochures and wishing them luck as they head out the door.  They don’t have extra time to teach family members how to do things.


Caregivers Learn How to Do Things Through Reading Material

     After Lynn’s Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, I was handed five magazines on the subject at a doctor’s appointment and told to call if I had any questions. The doctor spent time during the meeting, explaining multiple sclerosis. However, being somewhat numb from the shock of the news, I absorbed little of what I heard. I was a nurse and familiar with the condition and medical terminology. It struck me then, “What if I had no idea what any of these words mean?  It would be like listening to a foreign language.”


 Medical People Speak a Foreign Language

     Many people feel like they have entered a foreign country when they first start interacting with healthcare personnel and programs. I get that. Healthcare has its own language, dress code, rules, and culture. Often when first hearing a difficult diagnosis, the immediate reaction is shock. The brain shuts down to a narrow focus making it easy to get confused.  If the caregiver is unfamiliar with medical terminology, many words sound similar, and misunderstandings can occur. Therefore, families may find themselves attempting new procedures but with incorrect information because they misunderstood the instructions.


Discharge Instructions on How to do Things Not Always Clear

    Most healthcare facilities are accredited by the Joint Commission, which requires patients to receive teaching and discharge instructions before they go home.  However, I usually see pre-printed “one size fits all” forms that are not specific to anyone’s needs. They allow the hospital to check the box for regulations but do you little good. What you need instead is information accurate to you.  All discharge summary sheets should include the following:

  • a list of discharge medications,
  • treatments,
  • a date for a follow-up appointment,
  • a number to call if you get worse,
  • a summary of your stay/visit.

What’s missing is the detail. You also need to know

  • which medications you received the day of discharge and what you still need to take when you get home,
  • any changes to your medication schedule at home based on this admission,
  • what treatments do you need to do (how often, and how long), and
  • when to call if there’s a problem.


How to Do Things at Home Gets Overwhelming

     Once home from the hospital or doctor’s office, you often wonder, “Now what?” You feel overwhelmed by what’s ahead and afraid of doing something wrong and causing harm. It’s scary. That’s why I started Becoming a Family Caregiver, to help with that feeling and to help you build confidence in your knowledge and skills. Here you’ll learn how to do things, why you do them, and what happens when you do. You will see that you’re not alone and find others like yourself. Knowing where to go and what to do will be much easier for you, and if you can’t find what you need, you’ll have someone you can ask—Me!