American College of Physicians Recognizes the Role of Family Caregivers

If you’ve ever sat in a physician’s office with your loved one and wondered if you were invisible, there may now be a reason to feel hopeful. The American College of Physicians (ACP), a national organization of internists, recently published a position paper aimed at recognizing the important role that family caregivers play in the lives of millions of individuals dealing with chronic conditions and/or the frailties of old age.

Family Caregivers, Patients and Physicians: Ethical Guidance to Optimize Relationships is an effort by the ACP to provide “ethical guidance to physicians in developing mutually supportive patient-physician-caregiver relationships.” The purpose of the paper is to help physicians recognize the value of family caregivers to the health and well-being of their patients. At the same time, the authors provide ethical guidance to physicians, who must balance this recognition with their duty to “preserve the primacy of the patient-physician relationship.”

The authors define family caregivers to include “relatives, partners, friends and neighbors who assist with activities of daily living and complex healthcare needs that were once the domain of trained hospital personnel.” They outline a list of specific recommendations aimed at assisting physicians to develop mutually supportive relationships not only with their patients, but with family caregivers as well.

After years of advocating for the physician community to recognize and support the role of family caregivers, NFCA is excited to see a major physician organization address this crucial challenge. In an effort to better explain what this paper means to all family caregivers, we posed some questions to the American College of Physicians.

Read more at National Family Caregiver Association website.

The Medical Information Binder: A Must Have for Family Caregivers

As any family caregiver knows, keeping track of your loved one’s (and your) medical information can feel like a daunting task. If you’ve found yourself frantically searching for the latest lab report as you’re rushing out the door for yet another doctor’s appointment, you’re not alone. No doubt all of the doctors’ notes, hospital records, lab reports, and medication summaries might easily fill several file cabinets. The key when sorting and filing this information is to know what records you need to keep and how to store them so they are available to you or someone you trust quickly and easily. If you’re looking for a convenient, easily accessible tool that can be updated regularly with a minimal investment of time, there’s no better solution than a three-ring binder.

Begin by making a copy of all insurance ID cards for both primary and any secondary insurance you or your family member have. Make a separate tab for all the major doctors your family member sees and file each report under that doctor’s name in chronological order (with the latest dates on top). Take Care Text box 2 Update the binder after each new appointment. This will allow you to have the latest medical information available at a moment’s notice. And don’t forget to purge any information that may no longer be relevant to your family member’s immediate care. This paperwork can be stored in a separate file.

You can use the contents of the binder to prepare for doctors’ visits, a trip to the ER, or for someone else who may be caring for your family member when you are away. “The only appropriate method to maintain medical records is to file them in a way that would allow you to pass them on to someone else,” says Mike Klatzkin, a Maryland CPA who is also the father of a special needs child. “It’s like having insurance, even though the hope is that you will never need to use it. You can gain enormous piece of mind by being prepared for someone else to take over your loved one’s care — whether it’s for a few hours, a week of respite, or, if need be, indefinitely.”

Read more and get tips from the National Family Caregiver Association website.

Coping with Medical Challenges During the Holidays

From the Right at Home website

If you or a loved one is dealing with the challenges of diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis or other health condition, give yourself the gift of a lower-stress holiday season this year.

The holidays are generally considered to be a joyous time; however, for people coping with serious illnesses, the holidays can bring unwanted stress. Michelle Riba, M.D., professor of psychiatry and associate chair for integrated medicine and psychiatric services at the University of Michigan Health System, recommends ways to steer clear of these unnecessary stresses during the winter months.

Read more at the Right at Home website