Caregivers often are involved in a loved one’s recovery journey from the very beginning of symptoms through diagnosis, treatment, and lifelong management of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.
Learning more about your loved one’s mental health condition and treatment options is an important place to begin. You can also offer support during the recovery journey by making sure your loved one stays connected to care.
Your loved one may feel he or she does not need treatment or support. Talk to him or her about the value of staying with treatment and how it may help reduce the chance of relapse or hospitalization.
Parents of Miguel, who has been in and out of the hospital for most of his life, share practical tips for caring for a loved one living with mental illness.
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Keep Doctor Appointments
Going to appointments and taking medication regularly, as prescribed, are essential to a recovery plan. You and your loved one can figure out strategies for remembering appointments—setting reminders or writing on the calendar—and for getting to appointments on time.
For some, this may mean taking their loved one to appointments. For others, it may mean teaching their loved one to ride the bus.
Stay on Track With Medication
Work with your loved one to figure out ways to remember to take medication as prescribed. This may mean sending your loved one reminders to take medication or setting up alarms if your loved one wants to do it alone.
Keep Track of the Recovery Journey
Keeping a record of symptoms, side effects, medications, treatments, healthcare providers, and medical history can help your loved one when meeting new treatment team members or in times of crisis. You can use the Treatment and Recovery Log to keep this information in one place.
Partner With the Doctor and Participate in Treatment Decisions
Your loved one may be more motivated to follow through and stay on track with his or her medication and treatments if he or she is involved in making decisions in his or her care together with the doctor.
Make Recovery Goals
Work with your loved one to identify recovery goals and create a plan for reaching them.
Help your loved one learn about and connect to services that may support his or her recovery plan.
Pay Attention to Overall Wellness
You can encourage your loved one to follow a daily routine that includes regular activities like eating well, exercising, and dealing with stress.
Seek Legal Support
Get legal advice about how you can help protect and support your loved one, including issues related to privacy and confidentiality, power of attorney, healthcare proxy, psychiatric advanced directive, living will, informed consent, and trusts.