I have just read The Good Caregiver cover-to-cover. The recently published book, by Robert L. Kane, M.D., is an all-in-one user’s guide with thorough, indexed, and therefore easy-to-find information about every aspect of elderly parent caregiving. Though he is a world-renowned specialist on aging and long-term care (Read Dr. Kane’s faculty bio), and he produces lots of research papers, Dr. Kane’s writing style is low-key and easy to read. Listen to his talk about aging and his book on a recording made for the Public Health Moment series, a program produced by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
My husband and I have twice assisted with caregiving. The first time, for his father, we managed our mini-part from a long distance; the second, for his mother, also began as a long distance affair but moved close to our home for the last several years. Despite great challenges the two of us, both only children, mastered much of the minutia and took care of ourselves. Still we yearned for a user’s manual.
The Good Caregiver is that manual, the one we all need. Read some of the reviews.
It’s not that most of us don’t figure out a lot of this information. We do. Yet as much as we understand, serious gaps exist, and they lead to critical misunderstandings because we can’t be sure of what we don’t know. Dr. Kane, a physician, professor, and head of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Aging, has written a book helps the reader identify the gaps and the missing information. For instance, we have long baffled about a hospital management practice.
Over the past ten years one unsettling situation after another has occurred to the families of friends and acquaintances. In fact, once it happened to us. An elderly person is doing well and recovering in a hospital, only to be told that a move to a rehabilitation facility must occur within 24 hours. In each situation the stressed-out family members, believing they had no choice, never thought to challenge the hospital representative. Thus the patient was transferred to an unfamiliar rehab facility, one that the family had little opportunity to check out. In several of these cases, the family member, who seemed to be doing so well, died within a week.
It’s an issue that has quietly driven me, the adult daughter of two senior parents, to distraction. I cannot count the times I’ve wondered, “Why does this keep happening?” More specifically I wondered, how can I prevent this from happening to my family member?
Thank you for, Dr. Kane, for explaining (in chapter eight) exactly how hospitals work and don’t work for elderly patients. But thank you especially for explaining how hospital discharges work. Who knew that the discharge planners are not patient advocates (they are always so nice, well dressed, and never exhausted) when they share the 24-hour discharge edicts (and they are perceived as edicts)? More importantly, who knew that a family can disagree, ask for a mediator, or even ask to appeal and, most importantly, that the decision has nothing to do with Medicare? We didn’t, but we do now.
The Good Caregiver , a rules-of-the-road manual for spouses, partners, and adult children, and it’s just a car ride or mouse click away.
Two As Our Parents Age Caregiving Posts from the Past