The Fearless Caregiver

Gary Barg - Editor-in-Chief, Today's Caregiver Magazine

The Security Zone




Seeking Chief Executive Officer

The goal of the company is to ensure the health and well-being of an extremely important client.  Hours: endless; pay: with your health, with your job, with your friends and, out-of-pocket, with at least 15 percent of your annual salary.  Benefits:  none that you can put in your pocket.  Average duration of position: 5 to 20 years.  Additional duties as the job demands; you will be chief cook and bottle washer, therapist, medication minder, incontinence expert, Mother Theresa and Secret Service agent.

I don’t know any of us who would jump at answering this want ad, yet 65.7 million of us hold this very position – family caregiver.  I do think, however, that it is important for us to see ourselves as the CEO of a most important organization. Like most CEOs, your job is to assess your situation, create a plan and seek the support you need. 

One of the most import aspects of being a Fearless Caregiver CEO is actually the role of security expert. Before a president or president’s family member enters a room, a Secret Service agent will sweep it for any security challenges. We need to do the same.  Let’s start thinking of our loved one’s home and surroundings as security zones. The first thing to think of when you enter your home is (as I was told at a recent conference) “Throw rugs are evil and only good for throwing away.”   

In the kitchen, is access to medications, sharp objects and stove controls appropriate to their cognitive situation?

In the bathroom, have you had a professional safety assessment made, including tub and shower? 

If you are concerned about your loved one wandering, are outside doors (including sliding glass doors) and windows secure against potential wandering challenges?

Yet, no matter how hard you work to keep a loved one safe in the home, like any good security professional, you need to consider a secondary zone of protection in case your impenetrable shield is breached and your loved one wanders off. Once a wandering episode happens, the clock starts ticking.

Thankfully, with today’s wandering prevention technology and law enforcement involvement and training, we are seeing fewer and fewer tragic stories about our loved ones being found days later, having suffered tragic deaths.

As any good security chief, you want to deploy the best tools possible.  You do not want the ones for whom you care to be out of your zone of protection at all; but if they are, the less time gone the better.

Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine
Thursday July 1, 2010
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