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Caring for Someone With HIV or AIDS

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Tips for AIDS Caregivers continued...

Keep the person with AIDS active. Help the person stay up and active as long as possible. If your loved one spends most of the time in bed, help him or her do exercises in bed. A doctor, nurse, or physical therapist can teach you simple arm, leg, hand, and foot exercises that promote circulation and reduce joint stiffness.

Prevent bed sores. Spending time in one position can lead to problems like bed sores, stiff joints, and pneumonia. If the person has to spend most of the time in bed, be sure to help him or her change position often. If possible, get your loved one out of bed part of the day. A nurse can show you how to move someone from a bed to a chair safely. To keep the skin healthy, put soft material such as sheepskin or egg crate foam mattress under them and keep sheets dry. Massage the back and other parts of the body that press down on the bed. If you notice any redness or broken areas on the skin, let your loved one’s doctor or nurse know right away.

Help the person with AIDS manage his or her medical care. Dealing with hospitals or insurance companies can be difficult even if you are well. Offer to help your loved one by driving him or her to doctor’s appointments, helping with tasks such as filling out insurance forms, and picking up prescriptions. Be sure to know what medications the person is taking, when and how to take them, and which side effects require a call to the doctor.

Address legal matters. For some medical care or life-support decisions, you may need to be legally named as the coordinator for your loved one’s care. If you are going to file insurance claims or pay bills, you may also need a power of attorney. Like everyone else, a person with AIDS needs a will. Although the subject of a will can be difficult to address, if the person does not have one, he or she may need to get one before there is any issue of mental competence. You should also address a living will, which specifies the medical care the person does or does not want.

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