Caring for our caregivers

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Caregiver is defined as “a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly or disabled person.” For many caregivers, this definition does not adequately describe all the roles they fill. Caregiving is all encompassing: A caregiver is a listening ear, a scheduling expert, a learner of medical language, an advocate, a source of strength, a driver, a meal planner, a friend and so much more. A caregiver often sacrifices their own needs to selflessly care for the needs of someone else. SIU School of Medicine and the Office of Telehealth Services recognizes these sacrifices and strives to lessen the burden for caregivers in our communities.

Cindy Davidsmeyer, of Springfield, is one of these caregivers. Cindy was a caregiver to her late mother and continues to be a caregiver for her father. Before telehealth visits, Cindy would assist her  with attending in-person visits. For Cindy, some of the difficulties with in-person visits included overcoming mobility limitations, concern regarding COVID exposure, and increased stress. Cindy and her mother then attended primary care and endocrinology visits through telehealth appointments.

By supplementing in-person care with telehealth visits, Cindy and her mother enjoyed greater flexibility and convenience. “My mom would breathe a huge sigh of relief when I told her we didn’t have to go out,” Cindy said. Cindy shares that being able to complete a video visit with her mom and a provider was a great asset to her mother and easier on her as a caregiver.

Trying telehealth visits can be nerve-wracking for new users. Patients may worry about the quality of care they will receive and potential technology difficulties. “Actually, our telehealth visits often felt longer and more personal,” Cindy said. “They are easy, and caregivers should consider telehealth as an option.”

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