It isn’t always a surprise or a “bolt out of the blue”. It can be a gradual awareness that “things aren’t quite right” or “something is off” with your older loved one. Trust your instincts. Follow the “little voice” that tells you to act. You may not see the unexpected coming, but you can prepare for the unexpected. You can be ready for the life altering events as your loved ones age and their needs and capabilities change.
A Geriatric Care Manager is educated and certified to deal with these life changes. With or without the help of a GCM, you can help identify a problem in the making and develop a strategy and plan to address it. Crises can and will occur. By taking the steps establish a dialogue with your loved one you will lay the groundwork for the more difficult conversations and decisions that will follow in the future.
My experience with elders and my years as a parent, a daughter, and a daughter-in-law, have helped me to understand that the ways you communicate with your loved one will influence how easy it will be to address life’s challenges. It is essential to be patient, loving and receptive to the range of emotions that may be present. Aging and its related changes can be scary and threatening to everyone. Do your best to listen and identify and prioritize your elder’s major (and minor) concerns. If there is resistance from your loved one or a difference of opinion among family members a Geriatric Care Manager is trained to offer an objective perspective and serve as a resource, counselor and mediator.
I had a client who very recently had a stroke that doctors call a transient ischemic attack (TIA). When I arrived on the scene the look a terror on her face told me that she was entirely dependent on me to make good decisions when she couldn’t even form the words to respond. The listening part I already had done in the meetings before a decision was needed, and the empathy part kicked in. I reassured her that I knew whom we were to notify about the stroke and that her pet at home would be attended. It was therefore our collective job to work with the health care providers to get through this first part of the stroke. No one had expected a stroke, but my client and her caregivers were prepared for the unexpected. And she did recover fully.
The role of “caring family member” has a lot of responsibility. Yet this can be managed with the right planning. You can provide a listening ear and a loving heart as you walk alongside your loved one in their journey. Remember that there are services available to assist you and your loved one.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families throughout metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to Charlotte Bishop.,geriatric care manager Chicago,geriatric care Chicago