Caregiver's Handbook by the Visiting Nurses Association of America

Review by Janet Frieman, RN, Staff Writer
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"Caregiver's Handbook: A Complete Guide to Home Health Care"
by the Visiting Nurses Association of America

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In a Nutshell: This book would be helpful to all those who become caregivers, either as a relative, significant other, or volunteer.

This book is an excellent guide for the layperson who finds himself in the position of becoming a caregiver, whether long or short-term. Chapters offer specific advice on the physical care necessary for the comfort and well-being of the person being cared for as well as the caregiver.. Health care professionals, patients, and families often say that people leave the hospital ‘sicker and quicker’. This book is a valuable resource for those people who find themselves in need of homecare.

Specific chapters deal with personal care, hygiene, mobility, environment, and palliative care. Definitions of health care professionals, commonly used medical terms, and availability of agencies and organizations are offered. A Patient’ Bill of Rights is included. Sample charts for recording activities of daily living are very useful.

The advice given is concise, easily read and provides quick and efficient ways of coping with the physical and emotional demands that may be made upon the caregiver, who may not have much time to prepare for this new lifestyle. Because this book was written by experienced lay-caregivers under the guidance of professionals, the language is easy to understand. Care-giving skills, such as bedbaths and mobility are demonstrated in photographs that illustrate the techniques needed to provide optimal comfort to the patient and physical ease to the caregiver. Methods of encouraging self-esteem , such as appearance, and establishing independence in eating with specially adapted utensils are demonstrated.

Topics Discusses/Table of Contents

Chapter1: Becoming a Caregiver:whether homecare is a viable solution for all concerned, emotionally and physically.
Chapter 2: Being a volunteer-working under the guidance of health-care professionals.
Chapter 3: Communication-dealing with impaired sight,hearing, or confusion.
Chapter 4: Adapting the home-specific devices that will assist in activities of daily living.
Chapter 5: Home hygiene: recognizing infection and preventing its spread.
Chapter 6: Healthy eating and drinking:nutritional advice on maintaining optimal level of health.
Chapter 7: Maintaining and improving mobility:illustrates safe ways to move someone about, and aids to increasing independent mobility.
Chapter 8: Bed comfort: effective body mechanics in moving the bed-bound patient, and preventing pressure sores.
Chapter 9: Personal care-washing and dressing.
Chapter 10: Bladder and bowel continence-advice in promoting continence.
Chapter 11: Home from the hospital-leaving the hospital prepared to care for someone at home:a guide to the aftereffects of some common tests and treatments.
Chapter 12: Caregiving skills-practical skills needed for caring for the sick; types of medications and how to safely administer them.
Chapter 13: Palliative care: minimizing pain and suffering, the stages of grief, and professional support available.
Chapter 14: Emergency care: what to do in the first minutes before help arrives.
Chapter 15: Useful Information: benefits available, managing money.

Useful addresses
Glossary of medical conditions
Personal record book

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