The first crisis in the life of an elder is a time for immediate action. Despite your vigilance in the past, some crises will be unavoidable. Understand that this is not the time of “why’s” and “what if’s.” During the Station of Crisis, you have become the older adult caring for your aging parents and making decisions about their care.
This third station of later life, described by Dennis McCullough in “My Mother, Your Mother,” may cause you to feel inadequate. By using these practical tasks, you can improve how you handle this time of crisis.
1) Find out what happens when someone calls 911 in your parent’s area. What hospitals do they serve? What is the average response time? Are they covered by your parent’s insurance?
2) Hospitals have a certain culture. Work patiently with nurses and doctors; don’t get labeled a troublemaker.
3) Put your role as advocate into effect. Slow Medicine means that “everyone who cares needs to be heard and engaged.”
4) Take time to bond with other patients’ families during a parent’s hospital stay. By comforting someone else, you gain perspective.
5) Prevent harm by making “gentle” inquiries about every test and drug. Don’t let anyone convince you that you are becoming paranoid by asking questions.
6) Start your preparations early by asking for a list of medications for after the hospital stay.
7) If family members can’t come immediately, negotiate when they will arrive. Spell out what kind of support is needed.
8) Beware of overly aggressive treatments on elders whose bodies are not resilient enough to handle them.
9) Notice changes in your elder parent’s mental status. Depression, dementia, and delirium often work together.
10) A crisis can cause an elder’s family to make premature decisions. Keep from making the easy decision to permanently relocate them to a nursing home.