Monitoring Your Loved Ones
It is important to be aware of things that pertain to your loved one’s health management. For example, you should know about their:
- Symptoms — Take note of the normal symptoms and look out for the ones that you should report right away, like shortness of breath, intense pain, and fever. In this situation, know what to do first and then who to call.
- Limits to what they can do on their own — Your loved one may not be able to take a bath, walk up and down stairs, or lift heavy things. As the caregiver, you need to work on solutions with the rest of your rehab team in these situations.
- Capability to be left alone — Do you feel it’s safe for your loved one to be left alone? If not, then you need to come up with a solution for when you need to be out of the house.
Planning the Day-to-Day Care
Setting up a routine is good for both you and your loved one. It provides structure and consistency, which are essential for when caring for your family member gets challenging. Simple tasks like medication, bathing, and even getting dressed can and should be put on a schedule in order to reduce stress. If you are working with a home care agency, then you will also need to work out with them which tasks they will be performing and which ones you need to do.
Additionally, one of the responsibilities that you as a caregiver will have in their day-to-day care is arranging for follow-up appointments with their health care professionals. In order to check the progress of your loved one’s health, the doctor will want to see your loved one on a regular basis. You will need to ensure that you get them to their office or set up a home visit, when it’s necessary.
Questions to ask your rehab team about follow-up care:
- Who is/are the health care professional(s) they need to see?
- Who do I need to call to make these follow-up care appointments?
- Where will the appointments be regularly held? Home, office, or somewhere else?
- What do I do if I can’t get an appointment with the health care professional at a certain time?
- How will my loved one’s doctor be aware of what happened in the hospital and rehab program?
Paying for Home Health Care
Just as important as all of the above, you’re also responsible for coordinating your loved one’s rehab and other care-related bills. Much like other bills, you can’t let them pile up. Firstly, you should read the bills closely to ensure that your loved one received all the listed services and if there are any discrepancies. If there are any problems with your bill, let the insurance company know and you may also alert the rehab facility.
You might also have to deal with other insurance issues. If that is the case, whenever you talk to a representative about a problem, take down their name and what was discussed. Sometimes you might run into a snag in which their Medicare or other insurance will not cover a needed service. If this happens, there are a couple of things you can do.
What do do if insurance will not cover a service
Talk with your interdisciplinary rehab team that helped plan the discharge and ask if they can arrange a way of paying for home health care.
Call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) who can provide education and assistance for informed healthcare decisions. Missouri’s SHIP program may be able to help. If you need to find the contact info for programs in other states, simply go to the Medicare website.
If your loved one is on Medicare, then you can contact the Medicare Rights Center by calling 800-333-4114 and asking to speak to a Medicare specialist. Also go to medicarerights.org.
If you ever feel overwhelmed with the day-to-day care, then look into local resources that can help! Many communities offer programs that can assist your loved one in various ways, including transportation help, financial assistance, and visits in which a friendly volunteer spends time with your loved one.
Additionally, there are programs for you, the caregiver. These include counseling, support groups, and respite care— which is time away from caregiving, if you need it.
Being your loved one’s caregiver is a very large responsibility. From all of the stress of planning the rehab discharge, all the way to the daily routine of home care– it won’t be helpful for anyone involved if you are not taking care of yourself, as well. Keep your feelings and physical health in mind and take time for yourself each day. If you are ever feeling overrun with everything, simply contact your team at Mount Carmel. We’re here to assist in whatever way we can.