Sunday, June 7, 2020

Alzheimer's & Visiting the PCP take 2

As I was sharing with a friend of mine this post, I realized that I forgot to mention a few things. I'll share with you my golden rule! I NEVER, EVER! talk about my moms' memory impairment in front of her, she will always be included in the conversations with the doctors. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Their cognitive impairment is irrelevant. Whenever there is a major situation going on, that I absolutely need to communicate to the attending physician I either call ahead (a day or two) and talk to the assistant or I write a letter explaining the situation.
On my mom's first appointment, I did exactly that. well, that letter was more like a term paper as I needed to communicate the state of things at that time, and it turned out to be quite a long letter. I took this opportunity to explain that I would to this moving forward and the reasons why. The doctor was very understanding, as well as his assistant.

I do understand clearly that there will be a time when she won't be able to be included in these conversations. we will cross that road then. It burns my biscuits! when people do that to patients or their loved ones. talk about them, make decisions about their care in front of the individual without acknowledging the person at all. We all deserve respect.

Another thing that I forgot to mention, depending on what stage of the disease they are in, is how they will react knowing that they are going to the doctor. Let's think about this if you know that disclosing ahead of time where you will be going, will cause them high anxiety and maybe they may become combative. Then do not tell them where you are going. Simply saying we are going for a drive, and voila! you end up at the doctor's office. if they don't want to get out of the car, do not argue or try to reason with them, simply say, oh, okay, please wait for me here, ill be right back. Make sure to lock the car, go inside the doctor's office, and ask one of the staff members to please help you, invite them in with a big caring smile. You will be surprised most of the time they will be more agreeable with a new face in the mix. Don't get your feelings hurt, that is just the way it goes.

I have known family members that make it into a whole production, and that is valid. Whatever it takes to get them in and/or out of the car. I've heard promises of getting ice cream, going for a late lunch, or simply walking around the park afterward. I say, hey! whatever works! always keep in mind your body language, the look in your eyes, they can sense when you are getting irritated, your tone of voice is also very important. Don't try to make sense of the situation, you'll lose.

If the individual is having a bad day, please inform the staff, that way they will be aware of what may happen. and they'll be prepared when it and if it does. Trust me they will appreciate it. We did in our Day Center, if the participant was having a bad day, the families would call ahead to inform us or they would announce it upon arrival. Knowing that information helped us make mindful decisions on the approach/interactions with the participant.

As I have shared with you in other posts, always be vigilant on how their disposition or attitude is the day of the appointment. If your gut is telling you "this is not going to end well" then please, reschedule the appointment. Of course, if it is of the utmost importance then, prepare accordingly.

I know it is a bumpy road, we need all the support we can get along the way. 

Be Prepared, Be Informed, Be Empowered.

I send you lots of positive virtual energy.

As always please send me your feedback using my email form at the Contact page here

With gratitude-