Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!
Topic: Caregiving & Disease Management-Aging in Place!
The health and wellness of our most vulnerable population, our elderly loved ones, is the responsibility of family members. Helping them age in place while tending to their needs is our role in the circle of life. It will be our turn one day to receive care. We all have a part to play… Yes, You Do!
Chronic health conditions can make everyday responsibilities challenging for older adults. Chronic health conditions are defined as ongoing and lifelong. Many chronic diseases generally offer a pre-warning. The hearer often ignores Pre-warnings. Here is one example. Have you heard the words…pre-diabetic or pre-hypertension? The prefix ‘PRE’ is the yellow caution flag telling you to slow down and change directions. Once ‘PRE’ changes to chronic, managing the health condition is lifelong, usually controlled by an array of treatment options and guidance.
Caregivers lacking knowledge about chronic health conditions that their loved ones may have can also be challenging. When one is thrust into taking care of someone, the need for evaluation is often not fully known. This can be problematic! Many chronic conditions require a working knowledge base on medication, nutrition, and skincare, to name a few.
As a nurse since 1985 and blessed to have practiced professionally and in a unique role (Read more in my books: From The Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers) and taking care of thousands of patients, including my mother, my expertise is broad. While working in the acute care setting and working alongside talented practitioners, I learned about cutting-edge medicine and evidence-based practices. I kept my mother out of the hospital because I managed her chronic needs in the home, was appreciative of my knowledge, and acquired a skill set.
So, you may ask, what chronic conditions do I focus on, and when should caregiver antennas be raised? My answer…all of them all the time. There are many health conditions deemed chronic. However, there are several that remains front and center. For example, heart disease, diabetes(Type I & II), cancers, seizure health, psychological and behavioral disturbances, also known as mental health disorders, denote a wide range of mental health conditions from mood disorders to thinking and behavior needs. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, addictive behaviors, and one rarely talked about, eating disorders. These conditions require a knowledge base on medication and the route of administration, nutrition (some foods are contraindicated), weight management, and lab work for medication adjustments. I know caregiving is a lot of work and a lot to learn. As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, I can help. Be safe! Be well!