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Caregiver Tips
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I’m sitting beside my husband who is hooked up to lots of tubes following heart surgery. While he is glowing in his nurse’s pronouncement of “You’re a model patient," I’m just trying to be a healthy caregiver. This has worked for me:

1. Talk to the people around you. They are in a similar situation as you. You may cheer someone, or get a boost or some helpful tips, yourself. (One woman told me where she got her comfy shoes. I told others where to find the free hot drinks.) Don’t ask nosey questions. Good openers are: How are you today? Where are you from?

2. Pay attention to your surroundings.  It’s easy to get turned around in unfamiliar surroundings.  Don’t make your life more stressful by getting lost, or wandering into a restricted area by mistake, (oops!)

3. Attend the informative sessions. Even if it’s something you already know, they’re helpful.

4. Limit visitors. We’re in a hospital two states away from home, so we have few visitors, which is lonely, but my husband is getting much more rest than if we were at home. Encourage folks to email or text message.It’s less draining. Decide before hand who should visit and when.

5. Enjoy your visitors. We actually had one visitor. Instead of talking hospital gobbledygook we heard stories from his fascinating careers of a nuisance animal (bat, raccoon, skunk) trapper, and cleaner/organizer in the homes of hoarders.

6. Bring a few things with to do. But not too much. A book, magazine, notecards, crafts, music and/or small games.

Don't Assume

7. Don’t assume all you need is your smart phone or a tablet. Some areas restrict phones or computers because they interfere with the machines in use.

8. Eat well. Choose low sodium foods or your feet or ankles may swell from all the sitting. You’ll be groggy after too many empty carbs, while trying to comprehend what the health professionals are telling you. Caffeine may not allow you to nap when you have time. And stay hydrated.

9. Walk as much as possible. Take the stairs. Walk the halls. Walk outside for fresh air and sunshine.

10. Let people help you. Feeling insecure or awkward accepting help? Decide what you feel comfortable with. I’m okay with people bringing me food, but I’d panic if people went through my disastrous stacks at home. This isn’t a time to be proud, though, so maybe it’s okay to let someone pitch in. (I don’t think I’ll have troubles accepting the massage former classmates bought me!)

11. Be kind to the health care professionals. Yes, it’s their job, but they could be tired, overworked, or worried, themselves. Nurse Holly is at the end of a 16-hour shift, after working two 12’s.

12. Remember God’s love and care for you. Be grateful for the big and small miracles.

You, as the caregiver, along with the person recovering, have a long road ahead of you. Take care of yourself so you can better take care of your loved one.

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By Denise Schaller Curnutt. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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