As a parent ages, the range of people who offer support expands dramatically. The older the person the larger the group can be, with multiple doctors, caregivers, assisted living staff, family members, friends, and therapists. A broad range of supporters is a plus, but a designated coordinator, someone in possession of the big picture, is essential to prevent caregiving mistakes and/or medical errors.
When an individual has all of these supporters and takes a range of medications, the situation can resemble the “wild west,” with people galloping in different directions, even though each person has in mind the best interests of the aging parent. Imagine my delight when I discovered this illustration, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Geriatric Patient Safety Initiative depicting what I call the “wild web” of supporters. This can be a useful tool for an aging child.
The family of an aging parent can map out a general diagram that includes each individual in a caregiving support group, identifying names, roles, points of contact, diagnoses, medications, etc., and thereby ensuring that all important medical and care information is in one place. Ideally one physician will be the coordinator of medical care, reviewing everything that happens to a parent, but as aging children, we cannot always count on this ideal situation.
Here are several web sites where a family can create a graphical caregiving diagram.