When the Professionals and Your Care-receiver Disagree
Mom doesn’t want to move
to a nursing home. Dad doesn’t believe he needs someone in the house
24 hours a day if he’s going to remain there. Your wife is
absolutely set against surgery. Your husband would be crushed if
someone took away his driver’s license. But these are the steps that
the professionals are recommending. What can you do?
The first reaction you
may have to such professional recommendations is “This can’t be
true.” This is a natural response. No one wants to hear the bad news
that a love one’s condition is deteriorating.
It’s easy to find
excuses: “Mom has always been forgetful.” “Dad never had good
eyesight.” “She was just tired.” “He got confused with all those
questions.” It’s tempting, too, to look at this professional, this
outsider, as someone who is merely trying to drum up more business.
Maybe more than anything else, it simply hurts to hear bad news. It
hurts to have someone say a loved one’s health is getting worse and
something big has to be done.
Regardless of how hard
it is to get bad news about your care-receiver, it’s important to
keep in mind that a health-care professional has the responsibility,
the training, and the experience to see the overall picture—to
assess a person’s general well-being, and to determine if an older
person is receiving the proper care or if that person
is safe under his or her present living
conditions. A professional assessment is based on a range of
abilities—physical, mental, emotional, and social. Everyone has
strengths and weaknesses within that range. Your loved one’s doctor
isn’t testing to see if he or she passes or fails. The goal is to
take note of the problem areas so that you can work toward a
solution. Remember, too, that a competent professional looks at
many, many patients with these issues, whereas the average person
often comes in contact with far fewer people in that situation.
family has questions about the accuracy of a doctor’s assessment, by
all means get a second opinion. If the concern is that the doctor is
behaving like a salesman going after more business, know that Senior
Information and Assistance can provide the names and numbers of
professional assessors who are not associated with any nursing home,
clinic, or other senior service.
the news you don’t want to hear can be even more devastating for
your loved one. It can immediately bring up tremendous fears and
troubling questions. One way you can show you are on his or her side
is to help answer those questions and address those fears. Together,
you can get more information. You can explore what the realistic
options are. You both can join a support group that welcomes your
loved one and his or her family members.
Still, it’s important to remember that resisting good professional
advice can harm your loved one. Very often, that advice—though
painful to accept—can enhance the quality of his or her remaining
time on earth, and that is what every concerned caregiver wants.
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