Family is the source of emotional and psychological stability for the patients. Seniors who stay in touch with their friends and family can effectively manage their chronic diseases. Besides regular visits, family caregivers can play an active role in elderly care.
Even with severe complications, patients can handle their condition much better if they have the support of their family members. Apart from that, reduced stress level motivates the seniors to engage in self-care activities.
For this reason, family involvement in elderly care has become a crucial part of care plans. This is why education efforts are centered on the patients and the caregivers in the family.
Let’s understand how we can incorporate family members in chronic care management in detail:
Evaluating Family Roles
The first step is to assess the current roles of family members in the patient’s care. A better understanding could help everyone involved make informed decisions. Here, the patient’s perception takes center stage.
While every member involved in care should give their valuable input, it’s how patients feel about their support and behavior that matters the most. Therefore, you need to consider the quality of relationships while determining the patient’s social environment.
After all, family involvement in elderly care influences the patient’s decisions and habits. It’s crucial to ensure that the influence is positive and works towards the betterment of their situation.
Educating Family Caregivers
Participants within the family should know every detail about the patient’s condition, such as the cause and recommended management.
Many of the patient’s decisions are taken by the family members, and those decisions can be well-informed only if they have sufficient knowledge.
It’s not just ‘support’ that we are talking about here. It’s also empowering family caregivers through education to take concrete action.
Setting Specific Goals
Once the family caregiver team is established, each member should set goals that are specific and short-term. It could be as simple as taking charge of grocery shopping for the patient.
It could be making sure that the patient is completing their exercise and eating a healthy diet. One has to keep in mind that the goals should be realistic for each person. For instance, someone living far away cannot be in charge of grocery shopping.
However, they can handle the documentation part of care management since it does not necessitate physical presence.
When it comes to family involvement in elderly care, each person must have the readiness to change. They should discuss the barriers to achieving the goals and come up with possible solutions.
One factor that matters the most is – family goals should align with the patient’s current goals.
Developing Supportive Communication Techniques
Supportive communication techniques can significantly enhance patient self-management. Given the patient’s chronic condition, there will be times that the situation gets very stressful.
In such a scenario, family members should not only get hold of themselves but should also be able to support the patient. Besides, effective family caregiver support is only possible with open communication.
Behaviors such as guilt, criticism, and pressure are not supportive. They could lead to decreased self-confidence, nonparticipation in self-management, and worst case – a rebellion by the chronic disease patient.
- “You know you can’t have that sandwich” (controlling behavior)
- “I know it’s hard during the holidays to be around all that food that isn’t recommended on your diet.” (supportive communication)
Increased patient autonomy with family support is linked to better health outcomes. On the contrary, controlling family behavior and unresolved conflicts can lead to worse results.
It’s important to take feedback from healthcare professionals and the patient periodically and see what positive changes can be made.
Incorporating Family in Clinical Care Processes
The role of the family in elderly care is not limited to assisting home management. Being a part of chronic care management means that they can be present during patient-doctor appointments.
Apart from that, they can have access to the patient’s medical record. This way, family caregivers can keep track of medication, appointments, and test results.
When seniors have family members with them during appointments, they feel more comfortable talking about embarrassing or difficult topics.
Moreover, family involvement in elderly care is also about communicating with care specialists via email or phone call.
Therefore, a family-centric approach can have positive outcomes on the patient’s condition. By considering all the factors mentioned above, those benefits can be realized.