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Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

How To Be A Caregiver (Local or Long Distance)



Following are tips to being a pro-active caregiver: 

  • Determine the roles of the family member and/or friends who wish to be part of the caregiving team. Caregivers do not need to be part of a nuclear family.
  • If necessary, engage professionals to help. You can locate professionals through the Eldercare Locator at offsite link
  • Keep in mind that the role of a caregiver changes over the course of a disease. 
  • Be sensitive to the needs of the person you care about. 
    • For instance, when treatment is finished, you may think there will be elation. Instead, this is often a period of emotional turmoil. The emotions that were kept in check after diagnosis and during treatment tend to surface. There is also the feeling of being isolated after leaving a treatment team. In fact, unexpected emotions may surface at any time.
    • Do things in the patient's own time. For instance, if the patient is used to going to bed at 11:15 at night, time caregiving so he or she can stay on schedule.
  • Take care of yourself. If you are not in good shape, you will not be able to help the person you care about. 
    • Do your best to eat right, exercise, and take care of your own health - including preventive health care. 
    • Give yourself some time off. Time off can be so important to your health that health insurance may pay for someone to take over for you for a while. This is known as "respite care." Check the policy of the person you care for.
  • Be informed.
    • Maintain close communication with the person's doctor, other medical providers, and helpers. 
  • Keep a log book.
    • Include what you learn when you speak with the person you're caring for, family members and friends.
    • Note all your activities about the person's health insurance and other matters. Include the name and contact information of each person you speak with, and what happened.
  • Keep a list of contact information for everyone involved in the person's health care and personal care. Include mobile phones and e mail addresses. Give the list to everyone involved. Keep a copy near your phone.
  • When you do visit, do your own assessment. of how the person is doing. For example, look at::
    • Personal hygiene 
    • Level of mobility 
    • Whether nutritional needs are being met
    • The condition of the home
    • Safety factors such as working smoke detectors and a trusted neighbor having a key. 
  • Look for small things or gestures that can help. For instance, a foot  massage can be soothing as well as to help bond the two of  you.

LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVER (when you are an hour or more away from the person you care about)

Distance creates a barrier - but not an insurmountable one. In addition to the above tips:

  • To help stay informed:
    • Schedule a regular time to talk – including time to talk with your loved one.
    • set up safety net of other friends and family members who can monitor the person you care about. Let them be your eyes and ears.
  • Stay in touch with your loved one.
    • In addition to "old" means such as telephone and mail use free internet communication tools such as e mail and Skype.  offsite link
    • Consider setting up a camera in the person's home so you can monitor them.
  • Book regular trips to visit the person ahead of time. It not only saves money, it gives you both something to look forward to.


  • Meals can be organized through such websites as MealTrain offsite link.
  • Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (and similar state laws), you may be entitled to take up to 12 weeks off of work to care for a person close to you. To learn more, click here.
  • Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, (ADA) and similar state laws, you cannot be discriminated against because of associating with a person with a "disability" (health condition.)  While the ADA provides that people with a disability must be given a reasonable accommodation if needed to permit them to do their job, a similar protection does NOT extend to caregivers. If you need an accommodation at work to help you be a caretaker, you will have to negotiate for it on your own. To learn how, click here.

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