I recently interviewed Belinda Castro regarding her experience with caring for her father who was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately since the time of this recording, Belinda’s father passed away. She shared with us her frustrations at not understanding fully her father’s medical condition. Below is an excerpt from the above interview and some tips to help you to avoid some of the anxiety that Belinda and her family experienced.
“To begin with I wish I knew what caused Alzheimer’s, and I also wish I knew the availability of the forum and the support on Facebook. Being here in the Rio Grande valley we don’t hear about it often. so when I logged onto Facebook and found this organization I thought this is exactly what I needed.”
When my dad started with his Alzheimer’s I never knew that my dad was going to get as violent as he was getting. People never told us what to expect, my dad went from crying to hitting, to telling us that he was going to die which is something you don’t expect to hear from your parent, but being that my dad is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s we found this wonderful association called Hospice Care and they have been so awesome to us, they have given us the step by step knowledge of what’s happening with my dad, what is going to be happening with my dad and once they provided that information for me, I thought that I have seen those stages in my dad if I would have only known that this was going to be happening how I could have helped him or reassure him that things were going to be better. The not knowing part is what was very very scary but know that deep down inside your family member is fighting to come back to you.”
“And I will be very honored to say I took care of my father and now he can move on, I can help my mother in her grieving process with the loss of her husband.
Tips for Understanding Your Parents Medical Condition
Not only is it important to understand your loved one’s medical history, current medical issues, over the counter medications and prescriptions, but in order to be prepared you should also have an understanding of the expected course of any chronic illness.
When you understand the progression of a chronic disease you are better able to be prepared emotionally, and mentally. You will recognize the signs of change and be ready to spring into action to provide the best care for your family member!
In addition you will be better able to advocate for your loved one with the medical care they need.
1. Your aging parent should be involved from the beginning, making their wishes known and them understanding their medical condition is key.
2. Plans are well thought out when family members are not rushed to make important decisions.
3. Be an advocate by building a team of professionals you can partner with who can guide you. Older adults often have multiple doctors involved in their care it is important that they all know who each of your doctors are so that you can create coordinated care amongst the team.
4. Ask questions!! Lots of them!! The way to understanding your parent’s chronic issues is to be actively involved with their doctors. Don’t rely on the internet to find out information regarding your loved ones medical condition. It is so much more complicated than just reading about one disease. Between multiple medications, multiple medical conditions, there are many factors that come into play with someone’s health.
5. Engage other family members in advocacy. I found that when my dad had his stroke that my mom and I together made a great team. We were both always present to talk to the doctor’s and with the two of us there we were much more sure of taking in all of the information.
6. If you don’t have other family members to be at appointments with you ask the doctor if you can record the appointment so that you don’t forget important information.