Caring for my elderly patients is both a challenge and a delight. For one, most of them are so complicated that a medical intern would run screaming from the room. I, however, enjoy the layers of problems and solutions...this problems has led to that problem...and that problem's treatment will make that problem worse. Through years of experience we can usually find a happy balance between treatment and just letting nature take it course.
But these wonderful people are also (most times) lovely to care for. They are so thankful to be listed to and to have people caring for them. I have learned over the years that most 85+ year olds really just want quality of life and are not so hung up on length of life. I let them know that I get it and I often can see them visibly relax.
One important service that more families should take advantage of are Geriatric Care Managers (GCM). These are typically nurses or social workers who work with patients, families and physicians to navigate the complexities of caring for elderly patients. Whether it is moving an elderly parent close to an adult child's home, transitioning from home to assisted living or just optimizing the home situation so the patient can remain in their home longer.
There are so many questions that the GCM can answer that does not require my input. They can also help interpret symptoms, medical tests and results and often can be a shoulder to cry on for for both patient and child.
I have worked with several managers in the last decade. I have recently been working closely with Tracey Driscoll, RN of Transition with Care, out of the Concord area. We exchange emails and text messages several days a week about our mutual patient. Her advocacy for her patient is something to marvel at. The patient is doing very well, mostly because of the extra time that Tracey gives her and her family.
So if you are struggling to care for an elderly parent or sposue and find that you wish you had someone to do some of the leg work, coordinate with the physician or interpret medical jargon, then consider a Geriatric Care Manager. They can often make a very challenging situation much more manageable.