PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA is a national caregiving thought leader, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker offering online support and programs for caregivers seeking support and advice for the care of aging parents, spouses, and other family members. Pamela supports adults, age 50+, with positive aging advice and programs to increase health literacy and self-advocacy. Collaboration with professionals in the specialty areas of estate planning, elder law, and probate, financial planning, and healthcare raises awareness of and sensitivity to stressful family caregiving and healthcare issues.
Since 1999, Pamela has been a business owner providing direct service to older adults, family caregivers, and professionals. Her expertise includes care management and fiduciary responsibility in the roles of: guardian, medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, and personal representative. Her professional caregiving experience combined with personal caregiving losses of a sister, both parents, and a brother offers rare and authentic expertise in the fields of healthcare and aging. Pamela offers experience and empathy in stressful caregiving situations to build confidence and peace of mind in daily caregiving and decision making.
The Escalating Caregiving Crises
The care and healthcare systems lack sensitivity to the daily issues and emotional stress experienced by family caregivers and aging adults. Hospitals refuse to admit Medicare patients to avoid financial penalties or attempt to dump patients with little notice to families. More shocking to families is that Medicare does not pay for all types of care. Costs of care are unaffordable without a plan and will continue to skyrocket annually with 3-6% increases.
Lack of early family caregiving conversations (why not wait for a crises?) results in disasters for family situations involving spouses, adult children, and aging parents. The "let's talk about it later," or "I don't need any help" delay tactic results in drastic care choices and limited options. Unexpected situations occur. Caregivers lack credible experts to support problem solving and decision making. Providing caregivers with a list of resources, a book, a pat on the back, and "good luck" is the usual response from social service and referral experts who have no direct practical experience. Book smarts fail caregiving situations.
Nursing home care, unless one has an advocate, is a situation of last resort. How many nursing homes have you visited where residents are sitting in wheelchairs bent over asleep lined up by the nurses station? How many hallways smell of urine? If Alzheimer's is the diagnosis, the majority of nursing home staff are untrained in the skills needed to compassionately care for aging adults with memory loss.
Care and retirement communities are a blessing or a nightmare depending on leadership. Unreported falls, injuries, medications not given or given incorrectly, skin wounds, refusing to get out of bed to come to a meal, or sitting in urine or feces for hours are frequent occurrences for aging adults who need more than a hello or a quick check in. Family members must show up or find someone to help with visits to make certain loved ones are receiving care. Staff may be supportive or judgmental of resident and family relationships.
Professional caregivers experience poor treatment by management. Physicians lack bedside manner and are condescending not only to staff but to family members. Turnover rates of 50% are normal in care communities and care agencies. Many professional caregivers are burned out family caregivers struggling to make ends meet on low wages and absent benefits. Many of these caregivers have hearts of gold and love their jobs. More support and training is needed so the caregivers who are compassionate remain and advance within the industry.
In home care, an option to delaying a move to a retirement or care community has similar issues. Turnover is high. Care staff come and go. Training is minimal. Caregivers lack experience and professional boundaries. Successful situations occur when family creates care plans, manages the caregivers, and establishes quality check in points. Family caregivers lack the experience or the time to manage care situations. Care of parents and aging family members is at the mercy of a care system that is rushed, too busy to care, and constrained by policies.
Even with the escalating caregiving crises, solutions and hope exist. With over 20 years in the industry Pamela has rare experience that lends to supporting caregivers and aging adults through situations that may seem impossible. The role of the caregiver is not easy. Aging and having health issues may be frightening. Physical and emotional exhaustion are common. Uncertainty leads to sleepless nights. Constant worry about a ringing phone and the next emergency makes caregivers hypersensitive.
The solution to the caregiving crises is caregivers who want better care for loved ones. Caregivers who will commit to become more educated and aware of systemic problems that have solutions. By learning the questions to ask and verifying information, better than average care will occur. By learning how to work with healthcare professionals to gain support, the care of loved ones will improve.
Many aspects of the caregiving crises are beyond the obvious and lie in the small details of information, interactions, and care. By becoming educated and learning to advocate, stress, feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and crises will become more manageable. Caregivers will feel more confident in decision making and problem solving. Worries about making a mistake will lessen. Time will become more manageable. Family crises will become a past issue.
You are thinking, "I can't add one more thing to my schedule. I have no time" Do you then have time for more crises, emergencies, managing the health declines of a loved one, poor health, anxiety, stress, poor relationships with your family, stress at work, and sleepless nights?" Make time to become more educated, more confident, and less emotionally unbalanced by responding to constant caregiving crises. Until you choose how you respond to the caregiving situation, nothing will change. The time is now for real answers and real support.
Visit https://www.pameladwilson.com to subscribe to Pamela's monthly newsletter, subscribe to read articles, podcasts, videos, and hot topics in The Caring Generation Library and to join her private Facebook groups for family caregivers and professionals.
You can also watch Pamela's playlist of family caregiving videos and training videos for healthcare professionals on her You Tube channel.