This is a guest post from a CareSync user looking to share her experience with not only managing care for herself, her husband, and her teenage children, but also that of her aging parents. A member of the "sandwich generation," she shares her thoughts, and some of the things she's learned to help make days as streamlined and organized as possible.
Let's face it. Managing healthcare is hard. But as hard as it is to take care of yourself and your children, it becomes exponentially more difficult to take on the responsibility of managing the care for an aging parent, as well. Since I became the primary caregiver for my mother, it's been walking a fine line of being responsible for doctor visits, medications, and managing symptoms, yet at the same time, recognizing boundaries and not taking away her autonomy and dignity.
I am constantly balancing doing what I know needs to get done, but not stepping on toes. A lot like I do with my teenagers. So, I tried to see our new situation from the lenses that my mother sees it. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 1 in 8 Americans between 40 and 60 is taking care of an aging parent, in addition to their own children. There are 7-10 million Americans who are doing this from a distance.
Here are a few of my tips to help make the transition as seamless as possible for you and for the people you are caring for.
- Discuss the situation with your parent. Ask them what they need from you and what they want to be responsible for themselves. Good communication is the cornerstone of every relationship, especially this one.
- Discuss the situation with your employer. Let them know about the added responsibilities you are now shouldering.
- Take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Under this law, many people have the opportunity to take up to 12 weeks a year off, without pay, to care for a family member without fear of losing their job.
- Ask for help. From other family members and from the community. Many towns have adult day care facilities that are equipped to take care of your parent while you are at work.
- Take care of yourself. Studies have shown that caregivers are more apt to suffer from depression, anxiety and other stress related illnesses. You will be no help to your parent if you are not well yourself. Know that the key to this wellness is to make sure that you get the proper sleep, nutrition, exercise and time off. If caregiving is taking a toll on your health, make an appointment to see your own doctor.
My mother had done a relatively decent job of documenting medications and health conditions in scribbles in a little green, spiral-bound notebook she keeps in her purse, but as she was diagnosed with multiple chronic conditions, and we added multiple specialists to our calendar, I quickly recognized that our lives would be exponentially easier if we had a solution to manage her medical records. Every time I thought about the task of gathering this information, I felt overwhelmed.
That's when I found CareSync. For only $99, and less than 5 minutes of my time to get started, I was able to make records requests, and the CareSync team gathered all of my mother's medical records, from all of her providers. They scanned the complete record into a document section, but more importantly, they reviewed each of her past visits, and only entered in the important information from that visit; medications, diagnoses, allergies.
The information buried in those medical records was easily accessible, and even more importantly, easy for me to share with her handful of providers. No more little green notebook necessary. No more ziplock baggie loaded up with her 13 pill bottles. I have her medical information available to me on my iPhone (it's available for Android, too), and can keep her specialists up to date with information relevant to her care.
I am not quite sure that I could have ever accomplished this without CareSync. After the initial records collecting period of 60 days, I only pay $19 per month to continue to make unlimited records requests to keep her medical record current. There are other pricing options available, including buying a single visit's record retrieval, and even the option to use the applications for free. No matter what you choose, your information is yours. Forever.
I hadn't been in my caregiver role for long before CareSync, but I can't imagine not having it now. In fact, I've since gotten complete histories for both of my children, myself, and my husband.
THANK YOU for this lovely guest post. We love all of our users, and we love hearing your stories of increased confidence as patients and care team, better visit experiences, and how your providers are reacting to you taking control of your health information.
To get started on the unbelievably simple process of making records requests, click the button below. Right now, you can even save a few dollars by using the promo code HELP.