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So sprechen Sie mit dem Pflegeteam Ihrer Angehörigen

von NFI Redaktion

Supporting a Loved One with Schizophrenia

One of the most important things you can do when caring for someone with schizophrenia is to regularly check in with their care team,“ says Dr. Frank Chen, Chief Physician at Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital.

This can be challenging, especially if your loved one is resistant to treatment and/or does not want you involved.

„You may be very skeptical that a loved one actually has this diagnosis, and there may be great confusion about how to communicate with the healthcare team,“ says Chen, who speaks from personal experience as his brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 26.

Staying Informed

Here are some ways to ensure you are informed about their care.

Organize your paperwork. Ask your loved one to fill out an information release form provided by their doctor. This allows the provider to speak with you about their medical care. The person with schizophrenia can also fill out a form naming you as their healthcare proxy. A proxy can make medical decisions for them if they become incapacitated – for example, during a psychotic episode. Your loved one’s doctor may be able to help you convince them to fill out this paperwork. If they refuse to sign the forms, there are still ways to continue caring for them, says Chen.

Accompany your loved ones to appointments. You may want to be present when they speak with their doctor or psychiatrist. Even if they want you to wait outside in the waiting room. In any case, it’s a good idea to be there, says Dawn Velligan, PhD, a psychologist specializing in schizophrenia at UT Health San Antonio.

„When a patient is alone at a doctor’s appointment, they often just tell the doctor that they are doing fine, and no changes are made to their treatment plan,“ she says.

But when you are present, you can tell the doctor:

  • How your loved one is responding to medications
  • How they are functioning in daily life
  • If you have any safety concerns

Communication Between Appointments

It’s helpful to include a list of questions or topics to discuss with the provider, says Velligan. These may include:

  • Any physical or mental symptoms the person with schizophrenia has experienced
  • Their reaction to current medications, including side effects
  • If they have been doing better or worse since their last appointment
  • Any other observations you have made

If you are legally able to participate in their care, provide the staff with their complete medical history. If your symptoms have improved or worsened since their hospital stay, inform the doctors.

„Often, families just want to talk about how the patient was doing at home before the hospital stay, which is not always helpful,“ says Hossam Guirgis, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University. „We want to know how they look now compared to before to assess if the treatment we offer is working.“

When Your Loved One Goes to the Hospital

After discharge from the hospital, there may be a recurrence of psychotic episodes, especially if they stop taking their medication or skip doses.

„Some family members assume that a patient diagnosed with schizophrenia only needs to take medication for a short time and then will recover,“ says Guirgis. „That’s not the case. It’s a condition that will affect a patient and their caregivers for a lifetime.“

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