You Got To Do What You Got To Do

Maintaining Privacy

We all take privacy for granted and it is not something you worry about. You take a shower or go to the bathroom, you close the door. You change your clothes, you do it behind closed doors. When you rely on someone to care for you, privacy is no longer taken for granted because, depending on the condition, it can be a safety issue.

Not only is privacy a concern for your parent it is for you too. One of the hardest things to do is to walk into a room and help your parent get dressed, help them with a bath or lift them off the toilet. It’s not just the loss of their privacy it is also hard for you to do because it’s your mom or dad and it’s embarrassing. Just remember it is more embarrassing for them because like most people they never thought they would ever be in this situation.
During the time I was caring for my parents I maintained as much privacy as possible. When my mom would receive phone calls from my sisters, family or friends I would leave the room so she could have some privacy. Once again you try to give them as much as a normal life as possible. All it means is stepping away and partially closing doors.

I also tried to give my mom as much privacy as I could with the normal routines. When she changed her clothes I would close the door most of the way but leave it open enough so I could hear her call. I would do the same when I put her in the shower chair. I would leave the bathroom and close the door part way. She would remove her dress and take her shower, dry herself off and put on another dress. She would call me and I would lift her out of the shower and put her in the wheelchair so she could finish, such as brushing her hair. In later years as she lost motor skills and balance I would have to do more, till finally I did everything. I did what I had to do.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
James Colozzo
Author-“You Got To Do What You Got To Do”
www.takingcareofaparent.com

James Colozzo is not a medical expert or professional and has no formal training or education on this subject. He is an average person that was given a challenge and had to deal with the situation. His experience comes from the over 20 years that he actually did all the work to care for his elderly parents and their medical conditions. Since every person, condition and situation is different, what Mr. Colozzo did to care for his parents might not be suitable for others. You need to partner with your physician to find what type of care is best for your situation.
Copyright © 2019 James Colozzo

To make a comment please email author@takingcareofaparent.com

Advice From Others

Over the years of taking care of my mom we came in contact with many so-called caregiving experts. Every time she was in the hospital someone would visit and tell us what was best or what we needed. The one thing that was common with all these so-called experts was that none of them had ever cared for a parent. The way I found out was I asked them directly if they ever took care of a parent. The answer was always the same, “No.” You are always told this is the best way to do this or that and when you listen to some of this advice you ask yourself, “Would I want to be treated like that?” Most of the time the answer is, “No,” and you realized the advice you have received made no sense. I started asking some people when they gave advice that I thought was ridiculous, “Would you do that to your mom?” Most of the time they would not answer the question and say, “I’m not in that situation,” or “I’ll deal with it when it happens,” or my favorite, “my mom is different.” Everyone’s situation is different so there is not a “one size fits all” mentality when it comes to being a caregiver. What works for someone else might not work for you. There are a lot of guides that tell you what is the best technique for many situations. There are also a lot of people that will offer advice on anything that you do.

During the course I was a caregiver I received a lot of advice. It came from doctors, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, home health nurses, rehabilitation specialists, lab technicians, pulmonary technicians, pharmacists, hospital social workers, dietitians, nutritionist and many others. If any healthcare professional gives you advice it is because they have seen numerous incidents of how people take care of a parent. Advice also came from friends and family. I always listened and asked myself if this advice would work in our situation. A lot of times it didn’t, but on the few occasions that it did, it made a difference in the way I was taking care of my mom and dad.

There is no harm in asking for advice because it might help you with your caregiving duties. Any advice that can make things better for your parent and easier for you can go a long way into maintaining the quality of life for both of you. One thing to remember is that because every situation is different, the book is still being written on how to be a caregiver and it will never be finished.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
James Colozzo
Author-“You Got To Do What You Got To Do”
www.takingcareofaparent.com

James Colozzo is not a medical expert or professional and has no formal training or education on this subject. He is an average person that was given a challenge and had to deal with the situation. His experience comes from the over 20 years that he actually did all the work to care for his elderly parents and their medical conditions. Since every person, condition and situation is different, what Mr. Colozzo did to care for his parents might not be suitable for others. You need to partner with your physician to find what type of care is best for your situation.
Copyright © 2019 James Colozzo

To make a comment please email author@takingcareofaparent.com

Maintaining Independence

Most people like their independence and the ability to take care of themselves. Parents are use to taking care of their children and being on their own. When they need help, it is hard for them to give up their independence and rely on others. Everyone wants to be independent and not rely on anyone for their everyday life.

When you start taking care of a parent, they feel that they have lost their independence. This reality hits them hard especially if they have to give up their drivers license. With a drivers license they had the freedom to go wherever and whenever they wanted. Through most of their entire life they had that feeling and once they no longer have a drivers license they feel that their freedom is gone.

Another situation is they have lived by themselves for a long period of time. They’ve grown accustom to doing things on their schedule and not someone else’s. They have their own routines, ways of doing certain things and no one tells them how to do it differently. When they move in with someone they feel that independence is gone.

As a caregiver that loss can become a burden on you because you have to try to keep them busy. You also will be the one to transport them from place to place because they probably will no longer be able to drive.

For my parents, one of the ways I tried to make them still feel active was to try to keep them engaged in their care. I would also always ask for their advice when I needed to make a decision. Whenever visitors came over I would do my best to keep my parents engaged in the conversation and make sure they were part of the discussion. This allowed them to voice their opinions and not feel like they were pushed off to the side.

They also kept some of their independence because I would let them help around the house. I would give my mom chores to do during the day such as folding clothes. It kept her busy and she felt she was helping me out. As always it depends on their condition but you need to do what you can to keep them involved. This makes them feel useful and they feel like they are not just letting the days pass by.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
James Colozzo
Author-“You Got To Do What You Got To Do”
www.takingcareofaparent.com

James Colozzo is not a medical expert or professional and has no formal training or education on this subject. He is an average person that was given a challenge and had to deal with the situation. His experience comes from the over 20 years that he actually did all the work to care for his elderly parents and their medical conditions. Since every person, condition and situation is different, what Mr. Colozzo did to care for his parents might not be suitable for others. You need to partner with your physician to find what type of care is best for your situation.
Copyright © 2019 James Colozzo

To make a comment please email author@takingcareofaparent.com

Doctors & Other Medical Professionals

The most important person you need when you are a caregiver is the doctor. They are there for your parent as well as you and can make life easier or harder for both of you. You need a doctor that will work with you instead of against you. Now this might have change due to The Affordable Care Act. When I was a caregiver Obamacare had not been implemented so I don’t know if any changes have happened to the way doctors work with patients and caregivers. The other change that we experienced was HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This law took medical privacy to the extreme and it made it a little more difficult to deal with some healthcare professionals. It was not impossible but it meant a lot more paperwork and a little more effort on your part.

My parents were raised to always show a doctor respect and this was due to the reason they were considered a professional and that they went to college. I was taught that a doctor was just like any other professional trade with the exception that they went to school for a very long time. In my parents day whatever the doctor said was law and you didn’t question him for any reason. In my day it is perfectly normal and expected to ask the doctor questions and verify their diagnoses. Years ago second opinions were never considered and not a normal procedure. Times change, sometime for the better, and I think this is definitely a change for the better.

A lot of people complain that doctors never listen to what they say. They have set answers and responses to all situations. There is a simple solution to this problem, tell the doctor what you need. One thing you to remember about doctors is that they work for the patient. Yes, they are either self employed, work for a medical group or are on staff at a hospital but the patient is their customer. Some say the customer is Medicare, the insurance company or now the government but it is the patient’s life. If you are responsible for the day to day care of your parent that means technically they also work for you. Medicare, insurance or the government might pay all or part of the bills but it is still your parent’s life and that is your only concern.

A lot of doctors get frustrated when they are talking to an elderly person. These doctors are always busy and sometimes they talk soft and fast. A lot of elderly have a hard time hearing what the doctor is trying to tell them and they force the doctor to keep repeating what they say. When your in the room with your parent the doctor will start talking to you and bypass talking to your parent. This can cause a problem because your parent wants the doctor to talk to them.

Unfortunately today's doctors have to see many patients to sustain their practice or the medical group. With all the changes that are happening in the healthcare industry in only looks like it’s going to get worse. Physicians spend less and less time with their patients because quantity has become a priority.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
James Colozzo
Author-“You Got To Do What You Got To Do”
www.takingcareofaparent.com

James Colozzo is not a medical expert or professional and has no formal training or education on this subject. He is an average person that was given a challenge and had to deal with the situation. His experience comes from the over 20 years that he actually did all the work to care for his elderly parents and their medical conditions. Since every person, condition and situation is different, what Mr. Colozzo did to care for his parents might not be suitable for others. You need to partner with your physician to find what type of care is best for your situation.
Copyright © 2019 James Colozzo

To make a comment please email author@takingcareofaparent.com

Medicare & Insurance

Most senior citizens have Medicare and supplement insurance to cover their medical needs. These two items cover most medical and hospitalization situations. Some might wonder what is Medicare and why do you need supplement insurance?

Medicare is a government run insurance plan for senior citizens. It has a Part A, Hospitalization, Part B, Medical, Part C, Advantage and Part D, Prescriptions. When you reach a certain age, at this time 65, and you paid into the Social Security System, you are eligible for Medicare. For a small premium you receive Hospitalization, Part A and Medical, Part B coverage and the limits are 80% and 20%. Which means Medicare pays 80% of the approved charges and you pay the remaining 20%. Approved charges are what Medicare deems acceptable for the services provided. Also the medical facility has to have a contract with Medicare. This can cause problems because the facility might have a Medicare contract but the treating physician does not, then you are responsible for 100% of the physicians fees.

For some medical and hospitalization that 20% co-payment amount can be quite large. In order to help with that co-payment some people purchase supplemental insurance. This covers the 20% co-payment that Medicare does not cover. Some of these supplemental policies might cover services that Medicare does not cover as well as prescriptions.

Basic Medicare does not cover prescriptions so you have to purchase Medicare Part D to cover your prescription expense. There are numerous plans and deductibles that have a wide variety of options. Some supplemental insurance plans do offer prescription coverage.

There are some Medicare plans, Part C, that cover 100% of the medical, hospitalization and offer prescription coverage. These plans also use your Medicare premium for the insurance coverage. These plans Medicare Advantage and the way they reduce costs is that they are usually an HMO, Health Maintenance Organization, or they limit what doctors and facilities you can use. For a higher premium you can opt for a different plan, such as a PPO, Preferred Provider Organization or indemnity plan and use the doctor or facility of your choice.

Medicare and Supplement Insurance has become a huge business and thousands of people have made careers out of trying to understand the rules of the game. It is a game because one day a service, procedure or item is approved and the next day it is not. It is a bureaucratic system that has special codes for billing and is usually a nightmare for the individual. As the health insurance system changes it seem trying to understand Medicare gets worse. Who knows what the future will bring.

With all this information what do you do? The good news is that if your parents have original Medicare and a supplement insurance or Medicare Advantage it does make the insurance process and financial burden a little easier. You should be able to take them to the doctor, medical facility or hospital and not have to worry about receiving huge bills. Depending on the billing department and the insurance handling the claims you might have to spend a lot of time on the phone trying to get certain billing matters corrected. Before you can do this you have to have your parent authorize you to talk on their behalf with Medicare and the insurance. Some companies have a form you can fill out and others have your parent do a phone interview that authorizes you to talk on their behalf. This is dictated by HIPAA, The Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act.

If your parent only has original Medicare that only covers 80% of the approved charges you could be in store for some very large medical bills. There is no way to know how expensive medical care will be in the coming day, months or years. If you have money saved or assets you can sell, it might not be a problem but depending on your parents medical condition it might become one.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
James Colozzo
Author-“You Got To Do What You Got To Do”
www.takingcareofaparent.com

James Colozzo is not a medical expert or professional and has no formal training or education on this subject. He is an average person that was given a challenge and had to deal with the situation. His experience comes from the over 20 years that he actually did all the work to care for his elderly parents and their medical conditions. Since every person, condition and situation is different, what Mr. Colozzo did to care for his parents might not be suitable for others. You need to partner with your physician to find what type of care is best for your situation.
Copyright © 2019 James Colozzo

To make a comment please email author@takingcareofaparent.com

Elder Abuse

Unfortunately elder abuse is a big problem and health providers are required by law to report it to the proper authorities. In recent years doctors offices, outpatient facilities, labs and other healthcare offices are required to check all patients for abnormal bruising. They also ask the patient questions to see if they are being taken care of properly. This world is a crazy place and there are a lot of elderly people abused and a lot of them are taken advantage of by “so-called loved ones.”

Being a caregiver also means that you are under a microscope. You need to be at your best so your parent is cared for properly. Make sure they are clean, well nourished, safe and that their medications are taken properly. Be aware of any bruises, skin ulcers and bed sores because as people age their skin becomes thin. So even a simple bruise could be cause for suspicion to a doctor, nurse or other medical professional. The care you give your parent is checked every time you go to the doctor or to a medical facility. If your parent has an emergency and is taken to the hospital they are given a full body inspection when they are admitted. By law in many states, medical professionals have to report any findings of suspected abuse and an investigation will be started. Anyone with a conscience should be shocked to see how many parents are neglected by their children. I was amazed when a community college instructor at a hospital told me that a lot of elderly patients showed some signs of abuse or neglect. She told me that a lot of the elderly patients her students saw in the hospital were neglected. Some were physically abused, a lot were malnourished and not clean. Many cases of elder abuse are committed by the patient’s children or caregivers.

Elder abuse not only occurs at home, it can also happen in assisted living, rehabilitation, hospitals and other medical facilities. Paid caregivers, both individuals and those working for companies have also been the cause of elder abuse as well as other medical professionals. Unfortunately, as a family member you are more scrutinized than the others because the professionals have lawyers, companies, associations, and government agencies behind them. You on the other hand, are on your own, so be cautious, aware and careful while you are a caregiver because you are responsible for everything you do.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
James Colozzo
Author-“You Got To Do What You Got To Do”
www.takingcareofaparent.com

James Colozzo is not a medical expert or professional and has no formal training or education on this subject. He is an average person that was given a challenge and had to deal with the situation. His experience comes from the over 20 years that he actually did all the work to care for his elderly parents and their medical conditions. Since every person, condition and situation is different, what Mr. Colozzo did to care for his parents might not be suitable for others. You need to partner with your physician to find what type of care is best for your situation.
Copyright © 2019 James Colozzo

To make a comment please email author@takingcareofaparent.com

Daily Routines

One of the best ways to keep your elderly parent busy, alert and engaged is to have a daily schedule or routine. This could part of their daily hygiene or helping with tasks around the house. It can help them retain whatever motor skills they have and keep their mind alert because they have to think. After a short time they will get use to the schedule or daily routine and it will also give them the feeling they are helping because it makes them feel useful.

It depends on your parents condition on what type of a daily schedule or routine you will maintain. With my mom she was not able to get herself out of bed, so in the morning I would wake her, give her the morning medication and she would watch the morning news. I would then lift her out of bed and put her in the bathroom. She would do what she needed to do, call me and I would lift her into the wheelchair. I would then wheel her to the table and we would have a breakfast lunch combo. We would then do our errands or appointments. If none were scheduled she would do her chores, such as folding clothes. In the afternoon she would have a snack, I’d give her the afternoon medication and then a little later put her back in bed so she could rest for a while. Later I would lift her out of bed into the wheelchair and roll her into the living room. She would watch baseball or the news while I made dinner. When she still had some dexterity in her hands, I’d let her help by sorting out vegetables or getting some of the ingredients ready. After dinner I would clean up and do dishes while she watched television. When I was finished we would sit and talk, play board games or cards. It all helped to keep her thinking and it forced her to use her mind.

About two hours later I would get her bed ready and lift her into it. I would give her the evening medication and she would relax watching television or listen to music. She would fall asleep a few hours later and we would start the same routine over the next day.

This routine evolved over years because of her condition. In the beginning she was able to care more for herself and needed less help with hygiene. As her condition worsened she would no longer be able to do certain tasks so that meant I had to do them for her. She tried her best to do as much as she could so she didn’t feel useless or a burden to me. As time went on she did become a little frustrated because she was not able to do as much and needed more help. It was a system that worked very well for us for over 13 years. In fact our routine lasted until about 2 weeks before she passed away.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
James Colozzo
Author-“You Got To Do What You Got To Do”
www.takingcareofaparent.com

James Colozzo is not a medical expert or professional and has no formal training or education on this subject. He is an average person that was given a challenge and had to deal with the situation. His experience comes from the over 20 years that he actually did all the work to care for his elderly parents and their medical conditions. Since every person, condition and situation is different, what Mr. Colozzo did to care for his parents might not be suitable for others. You need to partner with your physician to find what type of care is best for your situation.
Copyright © 2018 James Colozzo

To make a comment please email author@takingcareofaparent.com

Caregiving-A Constant Learning Experience

Being a caregiver is an on going learning experience and the education does not stop until you are no longer caring for your parent. The medical field and caregiving is changing daily so you will never know everything. New technologies and procedures are making a huge difference in the quality of care. Knowing what to do is the result of learning whatever you can.

When I was taking care of my dad it seemed that everyday was a unique challenge. I was in uncharted territory and everything was new and a learning experience. My father’s situation, when he became seriously ill, proceeded rapidly and he passed away within six months of his worsening condition. I learned a lot in a short time. With my mom it was over thirteen years of unique challenges and situations. It seemed whenever we went to the doctor or she had a diagnostic test there was a new challenge ahead. I was learning as I was going along.

No matter what you have been taught or what you have read you will always be learning when you are taking care of your parent. Depending on your parents condition and the diagnosis, new procedures might be able to help you. What you do today might not be what you do tomorrow. The same goes with your daily routines, what you have done for many months might change because you learn to do something different that makes it easier and/or better for your parent. Anything that can help you with your daily tasks should always be welcomed.

Not only is it a learning experience for you but it is also for your parent. They are also learning because probably this is the first time someone has had to take care of them since they were a child. Things that they did for themselves for years now have to be handled by someone else. Routines that were normal and they took for granted have to be carried out by you so they can go on with their daily life. That might be hard to get use to so they are learning how to cope with the situation. That is another reason why you need to put yourself in their shoes because it would probably be hard for you if you were in the same situation.

As things change while you are a caregiver the more you learn, the more you can adapt means the more you can do. Caregiving is not an exact profession because it is different for each person that you are caring for. It is also a job that is a constantly revolving process. You will know your parent so well that you will be able to notice every little change and you will adapt your care to deal with it. It is a continuing learning experience that will last as long as you are caring for them.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
James Colozzo
Author-“You Got To Do What You Got To Do”
www.takingcareofaparent.com

James Colozzo is not a medical expert or professional and has no formal training or education on this subject. He is an average person that was given a challenge and had to deal with the situation. His experience comes from the over 20 years that he actually did all the work to care for his elderly parents and their medical conditions. Since every person, condition and situation is different, what Mr. Colozzo did to care for his parents might not be suitable for others. You need to partner with your physician to find what type of care is best for your situation.
Copyright © 2018 James Colozzo

To make a comment please email author@takingcareofaparent.com