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Complete Bedside Companion book cover

The Complete Bedside Companion

by Rodger McFarlane, Philip Bashe
Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 1998
480 pp.
ISBN: 0684801434 (soft cover)


This comprehensive and compassionate handbook is an excellent guide for home caregiving to the seriously sick and dying. It includes field-tested practical advice and support for all phases of illness, from the onset of symptoms through terminal phases, and necessary steps after death. We recommend it both for home caregivers and as a reference book for public and medical libraries. The book has two parts.

Part one, "Caring for the Sick," deals with general topics such as dealing with doctors, how to build a support network of both health care providers and friends, financial impacts and the insuance maze, how to provide nursing care at home, how to get support for oneself as a home caregiver, power of attorney, preparing for death, and dealing with the emotional and practical impacts following a death. Part One has eleven subsections:

  1. "The Hospital and the Medical Team: Who's Who and What's What,"
  2. "Dealing with the Doctors,"
  3. "The Everyday Angel's Cram Course in Essential Nursing Skills, 101,"
  4. "Matters of the Heart,"
  5. "Mustering the Troops,"
  6. "The Caregiver as Consumer Activist,"
  7. "Care for the Caregivers,"
  8. "Paying the Bills,"
  9. "Preparing for the Worst,"
  10. "Journey's End,"
  11. "Aftermath."

Part two, "The Everyday's Angel's Cram Course in Adult Medicine," covers specific diseases such as cancer, heart and cardiovascular disease, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (including emphysema and chronic bronchitis), diabetes, AIDS and HIV disease, acute cerebral disfunction due to cerebrovascular stroke or traumatic brain injury, and progressive neurological problems, such as Alzheimer's disease, that lead to dementia. Each disease is described, with information on symptoms, typical course of care, treatment options, and recommended reference materials. There is an emphasis on practical facts the home caregiver can use. Subjects range from general matters such as family dynamics of illness and the search for effective therapies to direct caregiving information such as managing pain, proper diet, nausea, dealing with reduced mobility, preventing bedsores, incontinence, and coping with dementia. Realistic stories of caregivers who have faced these challenges give a down-to-earth look at what the home care experience is really like.

Three Appendices list national support organizations and books for specific diseases, caregiving, home health care, adult day care, respite care, long-term care, hospice care, rehabilitation facilities, and related social services. Lack of Internet listings is the only weakness in the resource guides.

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home care, home caregiving, care giving, caregivers, home nursing, home health care
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