Caring for Someone With HIV or AIDS
Tips for AIDS Caregivers continued...
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.
Discuss end-of-life issues. If your loved one wants to, discuss that person’s wishes for the end of life. For example, does your loved one want to die at home or at a hospice? Does the person want to plan his or her own funeral or memorial service? As difficult as this discussion can be, allowing your loved one to make these decisions ensures the funeral is handled according to that person’s wishes. It also makes things easier for friends and family left behind.
Take care of yourself. To best take care of your loved one with AIDS, you must first take care of yourself. Get the rest and exercise you need. Spend some time doing things you enjoy. Get friends or relatives to help with caregiving or contact an AIDS service organization that provides respite care. Consider talking with a counselor or join a support group. Talking with others who are going through what you are can help you realize you are not alone.
While caring for a loved one with AIDS is difficult, rising to the challenges of caregiving can allow you to share emotionally satisfying experiences with your loved one and perhaps find new strengths within yourself.