Gary Barg, Caregiving Expert, Offers 5 Tips to America’s 25 Million Caregivers

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In the new paperback edition of his book "The Fearless Caregiver," Gary Barg provides expert advice to family caregivers

More than 25,000,000 Americans are family caregivers, and the numbers are growing. While they are giving care, family caregivers rarely get a rest. Gone are the days when you could rely on others to do the work of caring for a loved one in your family. America's healthcare system throws many of the vital decisions, costs and burdens back on the family. Gary Barg, the editor of Today’s Caregiver Magazine and author of "The Fearless Caregiver," which was just released in paperback, suggests 5 tips for the many family caregivers:

1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Don’t feel you have to be a hero. If the situation begins to put a strain on you, get help. Accept the help that people offer and suggest specific things that they can do for you. Ask one of them to sit with your loved one for a few hours. Ask another to pick up groceries,” says Gary Barg.

2) Organize all important medical and financial documents. Gary recommends, “Keep records of all medications and reactions: make notes about what works, what doesn’t and when you informed the physician of any problems. Keep records of all doctor appointments: the reason for the visit, the doctor’s responses to our concerns, any procedures performed, etc. Start or continue to maintain copies of medical records for your loved one, and for yourself, as well. These will be beneficial should a grievance arise or if there are questions about medical histories. Keep a record of where all-important documents are kept. When an emergency or tragedy occurs, locating information should not be where we spend our thoughts and energies.”

3) Become an effective advocate for your loved one and patient. “In today’s health care system, caregivers must learn to be effective advocates for their loved one and patient, not only with doctors and other health care professionals, but with the insurance and HMO industries as well.”

4) Be alert to caregiver burnout. From The Fearless Caregiver, “It is important for all of us to make the effort to recognize the signs of burnout. In order to do this we must be honest and willing to hear feedback from those around us. This is especially important for those caring for family or friends. Too often caregivers who are not closely associated with the healthcare profession get overlooked and lost in the commotion of medical emergencies and procedures.

5) Know when to get professional help. According to Gary Barg, “When in-home caregiving becomes more than you or your family can handle, when your loved one’s condition demands more professional help, consider hiring a geriatric care manager or finding a caregiver friendly facility.”

Gary E. Barg is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Today’s Caregiver Magazine and Today’s Caregiver Online, which were founded in 1995. He is a recognized expert in the field of family caregiving and has appeared on the Today Show, NBC Morning Show, and in interviews with American Health for Women, The Miami Herald, Investor’s Business Daily, and other major publications. As publisher of Today’s Caregiver, he has interviewed such celebrities as Dr. Bernie Siegel, Actor Robert Urich, Nic and Marc Buoniconti, Peri Gilipin, Art Linkletter and Dana Reeves. He has spoken at the National AIDS conference, been keynote speaker at the International Senior Fair, and master of ceremonies at SHARING WISDOM, the national Caregivers Conference, for the past three years. He lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

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Jennifer Hughes