Too much care for your elderly loved one seems like an impossible situation. However, with the amount of science and technology we have today, it actually is a possibility. It is easier than ever to test, procedure, and surgery your way through those last years of life. What do you or your loved one want?
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If there is one thing I learned from being in the medical field, it is that things happen and they happen fast. From falls to sickness, elderly can decline rapidly. Once hospitalized, you are in a hazy confusion of nurses, doctors, surgeons, and social workers working together to make a care plan for you.
Unfortunately, you may not be as involved or included as you would like to be on this plan. Do you know who else is monitoring things closely during your hospital stay? Insurance companies. Too often than not, being discharged from the hospital relied heavily on turnover rates, staff, and insurance policies and NOT the patient. Tests are ordered. Procedures are done. All in the name of keeping you alive at whatever cost necessary in most cases.
Even if you aren’t in a situation of quick decision making, such as battling cancer, these are confusing and overwhelming times. At some point you, or someone you love, may be getting poked, prodded, and treated way too often.
Let me be clear. I am 100% for these tests, procedures, and surgeries should the person receiving them wish it. I am not a doctor and I do not claim to know everything they do! However, I am an advocate for the elderly and their wishes. So, in these overwhelming situations, what if you want to say no to care? Or in an even more common situation, what if your parent or grandparent says no? What if it is just too much?
Start the Conversation
Visiting with your parent on a topic such as care towards their end of life or if they are ill is extremely difficult. Even that is an understatement. No one wants to think about being sick or injured and they especially don’t want to think about their loved one being in that scenario.
I have seen too often families scramble when a parent is in the hospital. What are we going to do? The physician says nursing home. Mom doesn’t want to be in a nursing home. What do we do?
Siblings have gotten into heated arguments about what their parents really wanted or what care is best for them. Everyone has their own definition and vision on how they want to live out the rest of their life. It is not fair to cast that viewpoint on to a loved one.
Start the conversation and start it early. It doesn’t have to be a conversation where they make a decision right then and there. It’s something to think about and it’s something to seriously consider.
Knowledge Is Power
You started the conversation. Great! You are among the select few who decide to do this and you won’t be sorry you did. Now is the time for research. Know what options you or your loved one has. Do they want to stay home until it’s no longer feasible? Are they okay with moving to an assisted living or nursing home if the situation arises.
Do they want to have every measure taken to fight whatever they may have to stay alive? Look at quality of life and what it means to them. While quantity is what our society focuses on, quality is where the heart and soul of our families are.
Have a Plan of Care
Now that you know what you or your loved one wants, it is time to make a care plan. Do this as soon as possible. While I am a huge supporter of home health, some may not want it and that is OK. However, it really can be a wonderful way to live out your life whether you need it short term or long term. Combined with hospice, I have seen terrible situations become less difficult. I have seen families and the patient alike suffer less with these trained professionals’ guidance.
Whatever your plan may be, make sure that whoever it pertains to is completely comfortable with it and has no unanswered questions. Too often, you or they will make a plan that is easiest on everyone else. What is going to be easiest on everyone else is know you were happy and at ease with the decisions being made for your care.
Stick with the Plan
Emotions run high in times of crises. I have personally and professionally been in the thick of it, and let me tell you something. Even if you have had the conversation and made a plan, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t stick to it. Remember why you made the plan. It was for a reason!
You or your loved one has made a decision how they want to live their life. Going against that is something that happens too often. Do not let it. Be strong!
Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much care. However, if you take preventative steps to this, you don’t have to fall victim to it. Remember to talk with your loved one, make a plan, and stick to it. This is a great way to make sure that you or your loved one keeps their independence as long as possible. After all, what’s the point of living your life if you don’t get to live it the way you want to?