As a specialty pharmacy helping patients get treatment for cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other chronic conditions, it’s clear to us that the treatment process affects more than just the patient. Each patient is connected to family members and other loved ones who are deeply invested in the outcome, as well as potentially serving as caregivers. November as National Family Caregivers Month acknowledges the important role of those providing unofficial support within homes across the nation.
The theme this year is one lived by so many in the inner circles of ill patients: Caregiving Around the Clock. In so many ways, caregivers are everyday heroes providing a labor of love while juggling care alongside a paid job or other responsibilities. This month is all about honoring those who ordinarily receive very little recognition.
It should be noted that caregivers often serve as the eyes and ears to a patient’s health care providers, reporting treatment side effects, medication compliance issues, and all sorts of concerns that impact patient outcomes. Thus, the multiple roles that caregivers serve for a patient have a significant effect on treatment outcomes.
Some helpful tips for caregivers this month (and, really, any time!) include:
- Organize medical information so it’s up-to-date and easy to find – it’ll make caregiving easier in the long run.
- Share information with your loved one’s health care professionals; you are all part of the same team working to get the best patient outcomes possible.
- Make sure legal documents are in order, including signed forms to allow the patient’s health information to be shared with you.
- Accept help from others who offer; caregiving is best when it’s a team effort.
- And, most importantly: remember to also take time to care for yourself.