We have answers! This month we feature articles that will help your loved one make travel plans, find caregiving assistance, and ease your worries about an isolated loved one.
- Planning for travel with oxygen
- Review of the CareFinder Assessment Tool
- When is your loved one too isolated?
Planning for travel with oxygen
If your family member needs medical oxygen, the crucial ingredient for successful vacation travel is planning ahead.
First, decide how you will be traveling. By air, train, or cruise ship? By bus or car? This information will help determine how much oxygen your loved one must carry.
- Consult with the doctor for medical clearance to travel. Obtain a brief medical history to carry along. Include a list of current medications and an oxygen prescription.
- Create a list of contact information of health care providers.
- Check the health insurance plan for guidelines regarding out-of-area medical emergencies. The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers has a planning tool for international travel that can help you identify health issues for your specific destination. They also list resources for traveling with lung (pulmonary) conditions.
- Have a respiratory therapist calculate how much oxygen will be needed. Allow for an extra supply in case departure or arrival times are delayed.
- Contact the airline, train, cruise ship, or bus company to make arrangements for oxygen. The requirements are different for each mode of travel.
- When flying, prepare for getting through the security checkpoint with oxygen.
- When traveling by car with oxygen, secure the tank in an upright position. Ensure that no one smokes. Crack the window to prevent oxygen build up.
Vacation days, have your loved one
- Wear emergency medical identification. Keep medications on hand at all times. Pack them in carry-on luggage and day-trip gear. Include a current prescription list and contact information for all health providers.
- Stay hydrated. Airplane air is especially dry. Drink lots of water and skip the caffeine or alcohol.
- Avoid sitting for long stretches of time. Try to move around every hour or so.
- Keep up to date about air pollution and weather at their destinations. Be alert to conditions that may make breathing more difficult.
Review of the CareFinder Assessment Tool
Finding the right care for your loved one typically involves interviewing a number of care providers. Certainly the “feel” of a person or place is important. But an accurate description of the services needed is key to a good match.
The CareFinder Assessment creates a personalized interview guide based on your answers and comments.It’s a sort of checklist for determining a care provider’s ability to meet your family member’s unique needs. Because it was created by the Alzheimer’s Association, special attention is given to any memory-related problems you identify. But the tool is useful whether there is memory loss or not.
This online tool produces a framework that helps you assess a care agency or facility. It takes only minutes to complete.
The CareFinder gathers information about an individual’s needs.
- Personal care. Does your family member need help getting out of a chair? Can she or he bathe or dress alone?
- Daily tasks. Is assistance needed for cooking? Housekeeping? With shopping? Can your loved one manage his or her medications?
- Memory loss/dementia. Is your loved one easily confused? Are there any behavioral symptoms? For example, a frequent need for reassurance? Or a refusal to bathe?
The interactive tool provides predefined levels of assistance and stages of dementia. You choose those that best reflect your family member. You are also prompted to add comments. This allows you to add details about your loved one’s needs and preferences.
The CareFinder questionnaire also comes in PDF format. Print it out to get input from others.For more information about interactive tools that support family caregivers, see our page of Links for Families. Return to top
When is your loved one too isolated?
When illness draws us closer to a family member’s routines, we’re sometimes surprised by what we find. Perhaps you’ve noticed that Dad seems to leave the house only to go to the grocery store. Should you be concerned?
Not necessarily. Consider the basic personality types, known as “extrovert” and “introvert.”
If your family member is an extrovert, he or she
- likes to be out and about in the world;
- gets energized by doing things with others, and often initiates activities;
- likes to “think out loud” about decisions and wants others’ feedback;
- finds routine, such as solitary housework, unappealing.
If your family member is an introvert, he or she:
- is naturally quieter, and keeps thoughts to him or herself;
- enjoys an active inner world;
- gets energized by contemplating ideas and memories;
- likes people, but typically has a few close friends rather than a big social circle.
Concern is warranted, however, if Dad’s behaviors seem at odds with his past lifestyle. Does he seem newly preoccupied with himself? Unusually cranky or foggy in his thinking? In this case, consider: Is your loved one grieving or depressed?
- Grief may arise while living with a serious illness. It is a natural response to loss. It can prompt a number of feelings, from sadness to anger. For some, it results in withdrawal from activities.
- Depression can result from unresolved grief or from the strain of providing care for another. It may include restlessness and irritability, as well as a “down” mood. Other common signs include lack of interest in usual activities, changes in sleep patterns, or overeating/undereating.
If you suspect unresolved grief or depression, get a doctor’s evaluation. For tips on handling grief, see our article about grief and serious illness.Return to top