The importance of a thorough diagnostic process cannot be overstated. As a caregiver you will need a complete understanding of your loved one’s disease process in order to anticipate the care that will be needed. You will need to grasp the challenge ahead—how much, how frequently and for how long. We are often unprepared for the future and a diagnosis without a prognosis for future needs may be unfair.
What is the major disease process that you are helping to care for? Is it a chronic illness or an acute episode? Relapse? Is this a terminal disease? What are your loved ones limitations? These are some of the questions to ask your team of medical providers.
How does this disease affect the body? What are the disabling side effects? What medications help with the disease? What is the life expectancy for this illness? For those of us with internet capability information is available. Be careful to get information from reliable sources on the internet as misinformation also abounds.
Many organizations dedicated to specific medical diagnoses also exist. These organizations provide a wealth of information for families on the disease process and resources designed to support the family.
Task breakdown is the processes of helping someone accomplish an activity one step at a time. A person suffering from a disease such as dementia is often incapable of remembering a series of instructions. Task breakdown helps your loved one to make sense of various activities of daily living, including: “brush your teeth,” “get dressed,” and “eat your dinner.” Tasks can be broken down by walking a person step-by-step through an activity or, depending on the person's ability, providing him or her with a list that breaks the task down. It is most important that activities be broken down according to each person's ability and understanding.
The video below actually takes us inside the homes of caregivers who are caring for their loved ones with dementia. Through the caregivers’ approaches, we are able to get a sense of how to break down a caregiving situation and adapt it to the caregiving relationship.
Video (click the video to begin playing)
The following sections may assist you: