Your Doctor Helping With Your Caregiving Stress


Your Doctor Helping With Your Caregiving Stress

patient-841165_640(Editor’s Note: This is the sixth blog post in a series called Imagine during which I explore what could be when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent tracks family caregiver stress and its source.)

A family caregiver recently shared this story:

She went to the doctor because of a recent (and repeat) outbreak of shingles. Her doctor advised her to minimize her stress. "I take care of my husband," she explained. Never mind, he said, meaning to ignore the advice to minimize stress.

A doctor who could have intervened to help the family caregiver instead sent this message: There's nothing we can do about your stress.


What if...

Every doctor screens his or her patients for caregiving stress. While waiting, each patient completes a questionnaire to determine if he or she has a family member who needs help and care. If a family caregiver, the patient continues to answers questions about stress and the source (or sources) of that stress (lack of money, lack of help, lack of time, lack of understanding, lack of support, etc.).

Those patients in caregiving situations receive a packet of information with resources, information and ideas. The doctor then follows up with the patient during the appointment to suggest additional solutions. At subsequent appointments, the screening becomes an effective measure of well the family caregiver is coping, what's helping, what new help is needed and what's changing.

After each appointment, the patient leaves with the possibility of feeling better rather than with the resignation that life will just have to continue to be that hard.

(A similar scenario could take place when a family caregiver accompanies a caree to a doctor's appointment.)

Unfortunately, this is not our reality right now.

Currently, we have no way to track family caregiver stress and its source in our communities. We believe family caregiver stress is the epidemic in our communities. Because it’s an epidemic, we want the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track family caregiver stress and its source. You can help make it happen:

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The Nurse in the Geriatric Department at Kaiser West LA gives the caregiver a stress questionnaire at every visit. The morning after first visit I called to ask the social worker what help they had for me ( I knew that I was stressed and a little depressed) They really did not have anything for me. The social worker ran a support group for adult children caring for their parents but that did not help me. I wonder what they are doing with the information.