National Family Caregivers Month: The Hidden Heroes of Healthcare

When we think of healthcare heroes, our minds probably go to doctors, nurses, and EMTs. But what about the “regular people”—parents, children, spouses, siblings, friends—who are providing much-needed care behind the scenes day in and day out? 

What Family Caregivers Do 

Many people aren’t aware of just how much help family caregivers provide to their loved ones. Of course, circumstances will vary from one situation to another, but here are just some of the services that these hidden heroes commonly perform: 

  • Helping their loved one get in and out of bed and around the house 
  • Bathing their loved one 
  • Helping their loved one get dressed 
  • Administering medications 
  • Providing guidance with at-home exercises 
  • Driving their loved one to doctor visits and other appointments 
  • Speaking with medical providers about their loved one’s condition 
  • Picking up prescriptions 
  • Shopping for groceries, clothing, and other household necessities 
  • Cooking meals 
  • Cleaning the house 
  • Doing laundry 

The Cost of Caregiving 

As the hidden heroes of healthcare, family caregivers often put their loved ones’ needs above their own, neglecting to take care of their own physical, mental, and emotional well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), caregiving can create financial strain and make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle, leading to: 

  • Stress 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • A compromised immune system 

How You Can Help 

If you know a family caregiver and you’d like to do something to take some of the weight off their shoulders and make their life easier, you could: 

  • Offer to help out. Don’t just make a general offer, though, since finding something for you to do would just add to their task list. Instead, say something like, “I can bring over dinner on Monday evenings” or “I can take care of grocery shopping this weekend.” 
  • Plan a fun activity. In many instances, the demands of caregiving will cause someone to push their own needs to the side, including the need to relax and have fun. If you know what a caregiver’s schedule is like, you could plan a day out or even a weekend excursion for when they’re off duty. Or, if their schedule frequently changes, purchase a restaurant or spa gift card that they can use when it’s convenient for them. 
  • Lend an empathetic ear. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is be there to listen to their problems and offer some supportive words of encouragement. 

What DispatchHealth Is Doing to Help 

By administering medical care in the comfort of patients’ own homes, DispatchHealth helps caregivers avoid the time and hassle of having to transport their loved ones to doctor appointments. They don’t need to worry about getting their loved one dressed and out of the house, driving them to an appointment, sitting with them in a waiting room, and then getting them back home. Instead, while waiting for our team to arrive at their loved one’s home—it typically takes about two hours, and we’ll provide an accurate arrival time when scheduling the appointment—caregivers can focus on keeping their loved one comfortable and getting things done around the house. We even call in patients’ prescriptions, update their regular doctors, and handle billing with their insurance company, sparing caregivers from having to perform these tasks on their own. 

Caregivers can rely on us to treat a wide array of urgent illnesses and injuries that don’t require a trip to the emergency room. In fact, we can treat almost everything an ER can, unless it’s a life-threatening or time-sensitive situation. Each of our mobile teams includes a medical technician and either a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner. Plus, an ER physician is always available by phone. 

We understand that finances are often a concern for caregivers and their loved ones, but you can rest easy knowing that DispatchHealth is in-network with most health insurance plans. When compared to an ER visit, our services are significantly less expensive, and patients often end up paying approximately the same amount that they would for a trip to an urgent care center. 

If you’d like to request a visit from DispatchHealth, you can do so by calling us, downloading our mobile app, or visiting our website. 

* Please note: For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldn’t be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesn’t replace a primary care provider. 

Sources 

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. 

Sources referenced in this article: 

  1. https://www.caregiver.org/resource/caregiving/ 
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/index.htm 
  3. https://nobarriersusa.org/how-to-help-a-caregiver/