Did you know that sharing your insight about your sick or disabled loved one or client can positively impact your well-being? It’s true: sharing your knowledge about your loved one or client is not only empowering but can contribute to a sense of control over your caregiving situation, improve your ability to make informed decisions concerning the care of a loved one, and enhance your intellectual wellness.
What does it mean to be intellectually well?
The term intellectual wellness refers to the significant insight you possess as a caregiver, including (a) knowledge about the personal preferences and physical and emotional conditions of your loved one or client, (b) the opportunity to problem solve and participate in care planning for your loved one or client, and (c) access to training, reading materials, the Internet, and other resources that increase your knowledge to better provide care for a sick or disabled loved one and yourself.
Caregiver Wellness: U model
Intellectual wellness is a part of the Caregiver Wellness: U model, a conceptual model that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of your health on a holistic basis. The components are not chronological; rather, they represent collective components. According to the Caregiver Wellness: U model, you are intellectually well when you actively seek education and resources to improve care provided for your loved one or client. Your intellectual wellness is enhanced when you apply what you learn to improve your health and wellness.
Are you intellectually well?
Please take this opportunity to evaluate your intellectual wellness. Following are five statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you agree with the statement, assign one point (1) if you somewhat agree, and do not assign any points (0) if you do not agree with the statement.
I actively seek out opportunities to improve the care of my loved one.
I apply what I learn to improve the health and well-being of my loved one and myself.
I am confident in my ability to make good decisions and am able to take a different approach in my caregiving situation when necessary.
I make sure that the rest of the health care team clearly understands my views about how to provide the services my loved one needs.
I freely communicate my knowledge about the care of my loved one with the rest of the health care team.
Evaluate your intellectual wellness score
A score of 7 or higher may indicate that you are intellectually well.
A score between 4 and 6 may indicate that you are doing okay intellectually.
A score between 0 and 3 may indicate that you might want to reach out to improve your intellectual wellness.
Four tips to improve your intellectual wellness
The following are four tips to improve your intellectual wellness.
Enhance your ability to share your intellectual knowledge with the rest of the health care team through eCaring.com. If you are caring for a sick, elderly, or disabled loved one or client, you know how important it is to keep track of even slight variations in his or her condition. Robert Herzog recognized the importance of the intellectual knowledge that caregivers possess when he founded eCaring.com, an integrated electronic care management system that includes a care-tracker, care alerts, and the e-care journal. Robert recalled an incident where the eCaring.com care-tracker would have improved communication between Robert and the rest of the health care team: Robert’s mother started hallucinating; she was drinking less water because she didn’t want to go to the bathroom. She ultimately became dehydrated and was admitted to the hospital. It was only after a lengthy and expensive hospital stay that Robert’s mother was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. Had he had access to the eCaring.com system, Robert would have been able to document and electronically share slight but important changes in his mother’s daily habits with her care manager, doctors, and the rest of her health care team. The truth is that there is often a disconnect between caregivers, who are likely to know their loved ones or clients intimately, and the rest of the health care team. Caregivers report difficulty having their voices heard in the emergency room, at doctor’s offices, in long-term care settings, and even at home. Tools like those provided by eCaring.com are immensely helpful for caregivers.
View the “Communicating Effectively with Healthcare Professionals” webinar. Open communication is needed between the caregiver and the rest of the health care team. Learn to communicate effectively with your health care team by viewing the Caregiver Action Network’s (formally the National Family Caregiver’s Association) free online webinar “Communicating Effectively with Healthcare Professionals.”
Educate yourself about the condition of your loved one. Some caregivers report that they are not being given enough information about their loved ones’ or clients’ condition in a manner that is easily understood. Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition. For example, if your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, you might attend the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s free monthly teleconference for caregivers.
Learn all you can about taking care of yourself. Consider listening to the Caregiver Support Services Radio Caregiver Wellness it’s up to U pod-casts, which focus on how you can care for yourself while caring for your loved one or client.
Remember that improving your intellectual wellness is a continuous process that will help you cope with your loved one’s or client’s illness and empower you in your caregiving situation. Please take the time to focus your energy on approaches that will expand on your positive attributes to improve your health and wellness.