Healthcare Navigator: Resources for Caregivers

Understanding Palliative Care as a Caregiver: 

As a caregiver, day-to-day tasks may be manageable, but some activities require help from healthcare professionals. Palliative Care is a service-based treatment that focuses on providing relief for the patient and their caregiver(s) in response to the symptoms and stress of a serious illness.  

A team of trained doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers collaborate with the patient's physicians and caregiver(s) to maintain treatment, assess the patient's status, provide information about resources related to physical and emotional symptoms, and more. It is appropriate at any age and any stage of a condition. Some patients receive Palliative Care for months or years at a time. If you are caring for a patient or loved one experiencing any of the following, adding the ongoing support of a Palliative Care team may be the right decision for you: 

  • Difficulty controlling physical and emotional symptoms related to the illness
  • Uncertainty regarding prognosis or ongoing treatment goals
  • Noticeable, concerning weight loss
  • Frequent hospitilizations/ED visits
  • Limited mobility, falls, and difficulty with activities of daily living
  • Limited social support, such as homelessness or chronic mental illness
  • Use of tube feeding or TPN in cognitively impaired or seriously ill patients

Resources for Caregivers:

Caring for a patient, loved one, friend, or family member with a serious illness can be overwhelming. The qualifications of a caregiver depend on how often or in what capacity a patient requires care. Depending on the illness/condition of the patient, caregivers may be present 24/7 or check in on a daily or even weekly basis. Some of the responsibilities a caregiver may take on include:

  • Coordinating appointments and arranging transportation for the patient
  • Distributing medication and managing symptoms  
  • Preparing meals and housekeeping 
  • Maintaining the patient's personal care such as bathing and dressing 
  • Speaking/acting on behalf of the patient 
  • Providing any level of physical, emotional, social, domestic, or medical care to someone that cannot provide for themselves sufficiently

Taking part in the ongoing care of a patient or loved one can add stress and take a toll on the mental health of the caregiver. Calling on the assistance of a Palliative Care team can serve to reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with long-term caregiving. Aside from implementing a team for assistance, there are ways to ensure prolonged health and wellness as a caregiver, including:

  • Validating your own feelings: There are many of emotions that come with caregiving whether it's for someone you know very well or very little. Understand that every aspect of this is 100% normal and should be expressed in healthy ways. Discover what works for you and carve out time for it each week, or as often as necessary. 
  • Don't neglect your own health: Caring for your patient is important, but taking care of yourself is essential. It even makes you a better caregiver. Making time to care for your own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs will help to overcome stress and manage the symptoms of caregiver fatigue. 
  • Allow yourself to get help: Recognizing the need for professional help when faced with the demands of caregiving is important. Often, friends or family members entrusted with the primary medical/physical caregiving of loved ones aren't sure where to turn for help. Resources and information are available for support. 
  • Identify your community of support: Family, friends, community/church leaders, and others who are serving as caregivers to their loved ones can offer valuable support. If you feel isolated and alone in the care of a patient or loved one, reach out and identify those around you who could offer support.

If you think you would benefit from the extra support of Palliative Care, please call (225) 767-4673 and ask for the Palliative Care team.

Request More Information About Palliative Care

If you think you would benefit from the extra support of palliative care, please call (225) 767-4673 and ask for the Palliative Care team or contact your physician. If you would like more information about the program, fill out the form below.