Unexpected Caregiving Events
Family and caregiving situations bring forth unexpected events. The memory of my sister picking me up from math class when I was in high school to take me home so I could learn that my oldest sister died in an automobile accident that morning. The late night calls from mom asking me to drive her to the hospital emergency room. Her unexpected diagnosis of bladder cancer. The even more shocking event of my mom’s death a few weeks after surgery. The call from my dad who spoke about how he didn’t want to live after my mom died, but who went on to live a few more years. The jovial call I received the night before dad didn’t wake up the next morning after routine surgery. Caregiving itself is an overwhelming and unexpected life event.
Pamela D. Wilson
Becoming a care recipient is a frightening, frustrating and unexpected life event. Family caregivers, friends and helpful people begin to provide support usually in response to a sudden change in health, a hospitalization or an accident in the home.
Suddenly the helpful people, now caregivers, realize that what they thought would be a short term care situation is permanent. Adult children caregivers have their careers, children to care for and a long list of daily commitments. Friends and helpful people caregivers have their own lives. All caregivers begin with good intentions and little idea of what role they are accepting or for how long. No discussions were held about the length or extent of caregiving involvement. Now adult children and helpful people caregivers feel overwhelmed and guilty that they want their own lives back — for them caregiving was a temporary response to an unexpected event. Now what?
Unexpected events like sudden changes in health, hospitalizations, and accidents in the home or a nursing home stay result in overwhelm and unanswered questions about planning for care. A previously independent individual now finds her or himself in need of regular, ongoing assistance.
If you find yourself in this or a similar situation here’s how The Care Navigator staff helps:
Hospital stays are usually brief, requiring follow up with medical professionals to ensure appropriate post hospitalization care. Sometimes “rehabilitation” for a period of one or more weeks in a skilled nursing community is recommended by physicians to ensure that the hospitalized individual is able to provide self care upon a return home. Frequently individuals or family caregivers feel that they are not provided a clear understanding of options by hospital or nursing home personnel. This frequently occurs due to caregiver overwhelm regarding the care situation and professional caregivers talking in terms unfamiliar to family caregivers. In some circumstances, family caregivers don’t know the questions to ask. The staff of The Care Navigator provides support in these situations by attending meetings with the family or separately meeting with community staff to obtain information to support communication with the family and subsequent decision making.
The Care Navigator staff meets with individuals, family members and helpful friends at hospitals, skilled nursing communities providing rehabilitative services, in private homes or at our office. We discuss concerns, provide clarity to information provided, assess the situation and provide recommendations, options and related costs.
For families uncertain about how to have conversations of care, The Care Navigator staff supports conversations of care and helps individuals and families navigate short and long term care discussions.
There are times when health situations may be complicated; individuals may understand a diagnosis but not the long term options for treatment and care or the implications of the diagnosis to daily life. The Care Navigator staff will obtain written approval to request medical history and recent medical records to allow a discussion to support an assessment, recommendations and costs.
For individuals and families wishing the benefit and peace of mind of advocacy and care coordination, The Care Navigator staff will coordinate and ensure care exceeds minimum industry standards. We provide support with a few projects or comprehensive management and oversight as requested by individuals and family caregivers.