While much of the focus in family caregiving is on the actual tasks being coordinated—from medical appointments to activities of daily living (ADLs)—one of the most important roles of an effective caregiver is that of communicator in chief.
Whether it’s with the older adult for whom you’re responsible, their physicians, your family (both near and far), the communities in which they live, or their other support systems, your ability to keep the communication lines open is one of your biggest jobs. Happily, you have more options than ever to help.
Online resources like the Family Caregiver Council serve as clearinghouses for actionable information. Specific to communications issues for caregivers, a quick search finds:
CAN's How to Talk to Doctors on-demand webinar helps guide you in communicating with your health care providers.
The National Caregivers’ Library, sharing tips on communicating and problem-solving.
One of your primary communications challenges is to keep on top of situations as they change. Only a few years ago, that meant being either present in person or attached to a landline phone.
Today’s digital environment expands your options: In addition to offering the most affordable mobile medical alert service, GreatCall has an app that helps keep you informed about the health and safety of a loved one who has a GreatCall device, enabling you to connect with them from anywhere.
Using the GreatCall Link app, you can know if their device is on and charged, if appointments are being kept, the device’s location on a map...you can even check in with yes/no questions (“Did you exercise today?”). You also will receive emergency alerts if the 5Star service has been activated or, with optional fall detection, if the user has fallen.
With whatever tech support you choose, facilitating open communication remains the goal. While every family is different, speak openly about fears and needs—both yours and theirs—and make every effort to be honest, while still being kind.