By Godfrey Harris and Jacqueline Njuki. Los Angeles: The Americas Group, 2019. ISBN-13: 978-0935047905. Paperback, 68 pages. US$15.95
The concerned and loving daughter notices her 72-year-old mother is showing early signs of dementia. She approaches her family physician for advice on how best to bring a caregiver into her mother’s life, how to help the caregiver set appropriate goals, and how to supervise the caregiver’s work. The family physician may suggest that the daughter read this recently published booklet: Essential Caregiving Guide.
The booklet is short on text; it is filled with various forms to be used to record pertinent information or to take inventory. The family completes forms about the patient’s personal and health data, medication lists, current daily routines, grooming, bathroom needs, and very importantly, likes and dislikes. The caregiver’s forms include a list of caregiving goals and, as the caregiver begins to assist the patient, they report accomplishments, changes, and anomalies along with periodic summaries. There is a separate form for the caregiver’s evaluation.
No individual forms can provide a complete picture of a patient’s or a family’s situation; a continuum to care is needed. For example, part-time or a short period of assistance may be needed postsurgery; 24-hour care may be required in advanced cases of dementia or other major disorders. Some of the forms in this booklet could be filled out by a patient with adequate ability to communicate; others may be too simplistic for complex situations.
The family doctor may wish to emphasize that caregiving may extend to many issues—safety, administration of medications, companionship, food and feeding, locomotion and muscle-strength maintenance when appropriate, skin care, general cleanliness, and bowel and urinary care. The kinds of forms needed to record details such as these are not included in the booklet and may have to be devised separately.
Further, managerial or supervisory requirements from the family depend on the caregiver’s compassion and experience, and on the circumstances under which the caregiving takes place.
The booklet’s text is not inspiring, but the forms do serve as introductory guides for the family and the caregiver. I think it is a good start as a way to get organized.
Caveat: The book is written with the United States’ public health services in mind, but virtually all comments about caregiving are just as relevant in Canada.
—George Szasz, MD
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