family-caregivers-feeling-invisible-300x200With as many as 18 million family members providing care for an elderly loved one, the latest report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is alarming: these caregivers are “routinely marginalized and ignored within the health care system” – resulting in seniors at serious risk for harm from uninformed, inadequate family care.

Here’s what you can do as an Atlanta family caregiver to ensure you’re seen, heard, and given the correct information and resources to help keep your senior family member safe:

  • List your name and contact information in your loved one’s medical records in case of an emergency.
  • Inform your loved one’s doctors what you are and are not able to handle pertaining to his or her care.
  • Set realistic expectations for care – i.e., if your work schedule leaves your loved one without care for a period of time, that needs to be addressed.
  • Inquire about training in the senior’s unique health care needs, such as dressing wounds or catheter care.
  • Locate and access resources like disease-specific organizations, the local Area Agency on Aging, and a respected professional home care agency for supplemental/respite care.

It’s equally important to clearly understand HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations. There’s a common misconception that because of HIPAA, family members are unable to obtain access to their older loved one’s health records. The truth, however, is that if the older person has assigned a relative to serve as durable power of attorney for medical information, it’s the obligation of doctors and hospital staff to share all medical records with that member of the family.

The final conclusion? Make certain you stand up for yourself and your family member. Richard Schulz of the University of Pittsburgh advises, “Advocate for your rights and make sure your caregiving contributions are recognized and supported to the extent they can be. You’re an important person in the health care system.”

Are you an Atlanta caregiver looking for help caring for a senior loved one? Call on Regency Home Care of Atlanta, GA at (678) 999-2446 for additional recommendations on providing the very best care for your senior loved one, as well as help in filling in the care gaps with fully trained and seasoned in-home senior caregivers.