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Communicating as a Family Caregiver

A photo of a elderly women with a caregiver

When you are a family caregiver, there are so many people who you will need to communicate with. Whether it is organizing family and friends, or co-workers, and employers, along with health professionals and insurance companies, effective communication is the absolute key to success. It can be the difference between getting your loved one what they need, or not. If you’re looking for ways to communicate that will help you be heard and get the information you’re needing you’ll want to be patient and take time to communicate clearly and effectively. This type of communication starts with organization and finding a way to take your emotions out of it. Interested in learning how? Keep reading to learn more.

Communicating in General as a Caregiver

It is important to be honest, and patient right from the beginning. When you need something from anyone, telling them how you feel with “I” statements will help. For example, “I need a few hours on Sunday to run errands” will communicate what you’re needing without making the person you’re speaking to feel as though they need to defend themself.

When the person you’re speaking to hears an “I” statement they’re more likely to either volunteer to assist, or be open-minded enough to help you figure out how to get what you’re needing by solving the problem instead of assuming that they are the problem. If you aren’t successful with an “I” statement, don’t be afraid to try again, sometimes it takes asking more than once.

Communicating with Family

When you communicate with family members, remember that emotions are running high everywhere. The fist step to communicating when there are so many emotions is to listen. Allow the other people in the conversation to vent their emotions first. This way they feel like you understand where they’re coming from before you start asking them for things. When you hear someone express themselves, try to restate what they said with slightly different words. This makes them feel heard and understood.

  • Remember that listening is the most important part of communicating
  • Talk openly, and others will also be open with their dialogue
  • Don’t be afraid to broach difficult subjects, such as finances, wills, insurance, and even advance directives. State that you want to talk about it now, so that if it is necessary later it’s already done.

Communicating with Health Professionals

When it comes to communicating with doctors and nurses, it can be difficult to understand jargon and keep up with what’s going on. Often times we talk to a doctor, then after they leave the room we have more questions, because it has taken us that long to catch up with everything they’ve said. To help with this, try these tips and tricks:

  • Write Things Down – if you’re writing, it takes longer, and you have a reference point for research later. Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor to spell something or repeat it so you can write it down, this will also give you more time to think and give you more time to ask questions.
  • Educate Yourself – Use the internet as a tool to ask your doctor questions, but stick to reliable sources of information. Take the information your doctor provides you as the most reliable source, since they know more about the patient than the internet does.
  • Explain Your Role – Make sure that the doctors and nurses understand your role as caregiver or legal guardian especially if your loved one isn’t able to express this themselves. This way the physician provides you with vital information that is necessary for care.
  • Point Out Difficulties – If you’re having a hard time with any portion of your loved one’s care, make sure you express this to your health professionals, they will be able to provide you with suggestions and assistance.
  • Keep Records – Take note of habits that are health related, such as sleep, nutrition, medications, and side effects. Provide detailed information about symptoms and habits this way it is easier for health professionals to provide care.

Don’t forget that at Homewatch CareGivers of Silver Spring we’re here to support you with passion and purpose. We can provide communication help, a few hours of companionship, temporary post-surgical support, or even 24-hour elder care. The possibilities are endless. Contact us today to learn more about all of the different options there are, and how affordable it can be.

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