Caring For Someone With AIDS
Preparing to Care for Someone at Home
Every situation is different, but here are some tips to get you
- First, read this guide. Have the person living with HIV or AIDS
Have other people living in the same house as the person with
AIDS read it. This information is for both people with diagnosed
AIDS and people with HIV infection who are sick and need care.
- Take a home care course, if possible. Learn the skills you need
to take care of someone at home and how to manage special
situations. Your local Red Cross chapter, Visiting Nurses
Association, state health
department, or HIV/AIDS service organization can help you find
a home course.
- Talk with the person you will be caring for. Ask them what
they need. If you are nervous about caring for them, say so. Ask
if it is OK for you to talk to their doctor, nurse, social worker,
case manager, other health care professional or lawyer when you
need to. Together you can work out what is best for both of you.
- Talk with the doctor, nurse, social worker, case manager, and
other health care workers who are providing care. They may
need the patient's permission, sometimes in writing, to talk to
you, but you need to talk to these people to find out how you can
help. Work with them and the person you are caring for to
develop a plan for who does what.
- Get clear, written information about medicines and
other care you'll give. Ask what each drug does and
what side effects to look out for.
- Ask the doctor or nurse what changes in the
person's health or behavior to watch for. For example, a cough,
fever, diarrhea, or confusion may mean an infection
or problem that needs a new medicine or even putting
the person in the hospital.
- You also need to know whom to call for help or
information and when to call them. Make a list of
nurses, and other people you might need to talk to
quickly, their phone numbers, and when they are
this list by the phone.
- Talk to a lawyer or AIDS support organization. For some
medical care or life support decisions, you may need to be legally
named as the care coordinator. If you are going to help file
insurance claims, apply for government aid, pay bills, or handle
other businesses for the person with AIDS, you may also need a
power of attorney. There are many sources of help for people
with AIDS, and you can help the person with AIDS get what they
are entitled to.
- Think about joining a support group or talking to a counselor.
Taking care of someone who is sick can be hard emotionally as
well as physically. Talking about it with people with the same
kind of worries helps sometimes. You can learn how other people
cope and realize that you are not alone.
- Take care of yourself. You can't take care of someone else if
you are sick or upset. Get the rest and exercise you need to keep
going. You also need to do some things you enjoy, such as visit
your friends and relatives. Many AIDS service organizations can
help with "respite care" and send someone to be with the person
you're caring for while you get out of the house awhile.
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