The Hub of Care

Click the Wheel to see how Care Managers are helping clients flourish in all aspects of life. 

Imagine each of our lives as a giant wheel, with our various needs and desires like the many spokes coming out from the center. It is the hub at the center that holds all these spokes together and keeps the wheel turning. For most of our lives, the hub is ourselves. As adults we are responsible for managing the complex web that makes up our life. As we age, it is common to not only have more spokes in the wheel, but to need helping managing them all. Whether it is due to a chronic illness, a medical event, or a diagnosis of dementia, adult children are often jumping in to take over the position of the hub for their aging parents. This might happen all at once or incrementally over time. The actions are usually motivated by a mix of emotions including love, compassion, concern, etc.  However, many times adult children will not know the extent of their responsibilities until they are responsible for them. This adds to the list of emotions a sense of being overwhelmed.

Common “spokes in the wheel” are:

Healthcare: Healthcare needs increase as we age and it is often the adult child who is helping an aging parent navigate the healthcare maze. Whether you are managing medications on a daily basis or managing a transition home from the hospital after a crisis, the demands can be high and complicated.   

Doctors & Therapists: The average aging adult sees 11 doctors a year. That is a lot of appointments and communication to manage. Usually, this falls to adult children to make sure appointments are made and kept and to implement recommendations made by the many doctors and therapists. It is usually the adult child who is responsible for the communication between doctors as well.   

Wellness: Adult children can often feel a deep sense of guilt for not doing enough. Especially if a loved one suffers from dementia, it can fall to an adult child to help them shop for and prepare food and get exercise to maintain as high a well-being as possible. Family Caregivers must watch their own well-being as well.

Insurance: From long-term care insurance to a variety of benefits, adult children are often helping aging parents get the reimbursements and coverage they need. They are the ones finding answers to what is covered and what is not. 

Financial: Whether it is paying bills or figuring out how to pay for long-term care, adult children are often helping their parents manage the finances. Many family caregivers also contribute financially to the needs of their aging parent.  

Home/ Environment: Keeping aging parents safe in their environment and minimizing their risks is a huge responsibility. Things like repairs and home modifications can fall on the adult children as aging adults may not recognize the safety hazards around them.

Community & Social Life: Especially if your loved one is no longer able to drive, the responsibility for social engagement can fall to adult children in the form of transportation to social functions, arranging activities and modifying family activities to include them. 

Family & Friends: Every family has it's own dynamics and the care of an aging adult can really amplify the relations between people. Adult children are often navigating the role reversal of helping care for a parent as well as coordinating responsibilities among siblings and in-laws. They are most likely to be the one to bring up difficult conversations and hard decisions.  

As the baby boomer generation ages, they are finding themselves managing the care of an aging parent while thinking about their own life and what it will mean for them to age well. In the model of care that we just described, the adult child is really at the hub of care, carrying much of the responsibility. Geriatric Care Managers have been revolutionizing the way families approach elder care by presenting an alternative model of care. As RNs or MSWs, professional Care Managers jump in the middle with aging adults and their family to take on the role as the hub of care. With an elder care professional at the helm, families are able to just be family again. In the short video below, check out how Care Managers are able to proactively manage each of the spokes in the wheel.

If your “do it all” model of care isn’t working for you and your family - you have other options. As the experts in elder care, Sound Options has provided Geriatric Care Management to families in the Puget Sound region since 1989. Give us a call today and we’ll join you at the hub of care. 800.628.7649. http://www.soundoptions.com/total-care-solutions

Published on May 14, 2014.