Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Caregivers—Don’t Be Afraid to Use Your Voice

Caregivers—Don’t Be Afraid to Use Your Voice.

Oh, this article is so good! And our speaking up is so needed!

Many of us caregivers now care for the parents whose position was: Doctors are gods. The doctor said to do it, so I’m doing it. Even though we baby boomers know doctors are not gods, some of our parents’ attitude rubs off on us. If we encounter a health issue or nursing care decision for the first time, we logically, smartly rely on the doctor’s greater knowledge and wisdom. But sometimes we forget to ask questions and supply the doctor with our more intimate knowledge of our beloved parent. And this is SO critical!

Please, please, please learn from the article’s author, Stephen Craig. And I will toss in my two cents, too.

In hindsight, I wish I had intervened to question the emergency room staff whose sole reason to release my father ONLY to a nursing facility, not back home to his wife, was that he might fall again. My father’s Alzheimer’s was not to the point where he needed nursing care. Yes, my mother needed some relief, but I did not know how many intermediate solutions we could have found for Dad’s care until it was too late, and he was irreversibly depressed by all the underfunctioning patients around him. And I wish I had spoken up when the nursing home’s physical therapist gave him 3-pound weights to use for seated bicep curls. At that point, my dad was a Senior Olympian who could have juggled 20-pound weights while doing lunges. When I witnessed these things, I felt so profoundly sad and so acquiescing to the doctor-knows-best mentality, it did not occur to me to intercede. How different my father’s last two years could have been if I had had courage to speak up.

Conversely, I am proud of myself for speaking up during one emergency room visit when my father was treated roughly by a hospital staffer and also panicked when strapped to his bed. The staffer obviously had no knowledge of typical Alzheimer’s disorientation in new environments. And I am proud of my mom for fighting the nursing home “committee” that wanted to send Dad prematurely to an even lower-functioning section of the Alzheimer’s wing.

Please read Stephen Craig’s article, “Caregivers—Don’t Be Afraid to Use Your Voice,” here. He tells some unfortunately typical stories from his own experience and offers more encouragement to advocate, advocate, advocate for your loved one. Even when facing a much revered physician or a whole healthcare panel of experts—Don’t be afraid to respectfully ask your great questions! Research resources that make better sense to you than the ones you may be offered. Invite yourself onto the healthcare team. I’ll repeat: Caregivers—Don’t Be Afraid to Use Your Voice.