People often ask me: what does finding the right care look like?
The answer is different for everyone. Most of the time, it’s a combination of consulting with professionals in the healthcare industry, and finding a placement that feels right for everyone involved. If you or someone you know needs assistance in finding care for a family member, my door is always open.
I recently received a copy of the following letter regarding a client and their family after they came to me for help. Laura* had noticed a decline in the health and well being of her sister, Dorothy* and sought out medical care for her. This is the letter she sent to the medical team that helped care for Dorothy before and during the transition into a care facility.
I would like to share this letter (with permission) to give you an insight into the many and varied struggles that our loved ones may experience. Many things come up during these tough times: medical diagnoses, declining physical or mental ability and even financial stress.
It can be very tough to see a loved one struggle, and worse still when they are unable to recognise their decline in independence. If you or someone you know are struggling with this, I urge you to reach out and seek appropriate care.
Check the signs your loved one needs care HERE.
This is the letter I received:
Re: Dorothy Smith
From: Laura (sister of Dorothy) & family.
Firstly, thank you in advance for all of your care and professionalism in caring for Dorothy. We deeply appreciate everything you do.
We think it is important in considering Dorothy’s future direction that you are aware of the following:
- Dorothy, before being admitted to hospital on Friday 13 September when she was dizzy and looking very fragile, was living on her own at her home. Her step daughters came weekly to clean the house, home care nurses came every morning to ensure she took her cachet of tablets, meal services delivered lunches three times a week (mostly uneaten) and family, several living in the country, came regularly to ensure she was okay. Despite the above, Dorothy was eating practically nothing of substance, was uninterested in food, unmotivated, not showering/washing/ brushing teeth. She was incapable of preparing food, eating regularly, was listless, without energy, often dizzy, usually spending the day in her dressing gown sleeping on her bed. Of additional worry to us as family, was her significant memory loss and diagnosis of early Altzheimers and the issue of her safety and protection with issues including not locking doors during the day and night and allowing salespeople to come into the house.
- At the hospital, Dorothy was diagnosed as having a very big drop in blood pressure, Postural Hypotension, being chronically malnourished, dehydrated with poor kidney function.
- Despite all of the above, Dorothy doesn’t understand what the issue is and what it is all about. If questioned she will respond by saying that she prepares her meals, does her washing, catches public transport, walks the dog, when in fact it is all an illusion. She has resisted suggestions of in-house services/care with showering, personal cleanliness, getting dressed and so on.
- With great medical care and intervention as well as regular meals and improved hydration, Dorothy improved. She ate the served portions of meals, drank more water, medication was under control and she now looks so much better. With the degree of 24 hour medical care and delivered meals, her quality of life has improved greatly.
- The family realised several months ago that top quality Residential Care should be considered for Dorothy and we have been exploring options. We believe that there is no way she can live alone in her house, for medical, and safety reasons. We believe, should she return to her home as she wants to, she will go back to the situation she was in before transferring to hospital. Her particular issues medically are (amongst others): low blood pressure, potential of falls, need for daily medication, regular meals and hydration; personal health: monitoring of ability to shower and dress; social health: stimulation through conversation and connection with others.
- Through exploring options for care, the family have organised for a Low Care Respite Residential Suite for Dorothy, with a view for that becoming her permanent care residence in the future. It is available now. This arrangement would also involve having to sell the family home.
- As a family, we believe and hope that Dorothy can have many more years of a good life if she is under permanent quality care, with stimulus from other people in very lovely surroundings. Dorothy is a Doctor of Philosophy in education and despite her memory loss, has intellectual interests, particularly in family history.
During the time that Dorothy stayed in hospital care, her loving family reached out to me to find an appropriate placement. Their main concern was in her reluctance to eat and care for herself properly, so much so that she might end up in hospital again.
I came and spoke with the family to address these concerns, and with some direction we put together a plan for Dorothy’s care. With the help of Dorothy’s medical team, we transitioned her into a placement plan where she received healthy meals, appropriate medical care and the opportunity to socialise and be her bright, smart self again.
Knowing that Dorothy was well looked after allowed the family some much needed breathing room. They were able to relax again, tending to their own families, children and jobs. This added freedom meant that they could now come and visit Dorothy as a friend, rather than a carer.
After some initial confusion, Dorothy settled in well and has grown to love her new home. She can rest comfortably, knowing there’s always a nice hot meal, brand new friends and a great team in place to care for her.
If you or someone you love is struggling like Dorothy used to, or you’re feeling the burden of being a full-time carer for a friend or relative, give me a call. It’s time to get a care plan in place to ensure a great quality of life for your family.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
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