Explain how common skills (e.g. communication and values attitudes and beliefs) can ensure good interprofessional practice for Larry and his wider family.
Communication skills are a vital part of both personal and professional practice (Axtell, 1990; Dimitrius & Mazzarella, 1999). They are necessary in the workplace and in families that function well, but they are also certainly necessary when it comes to how people are treated when they are injured, sick, or unable to care for themselves (Roter, 2001). Because Larry was the primary caregiver to his wife but did not want anyone to know that she was suffering from dementia, he made the problems that he is currently facing more difficult for himself and also for his wife, Jeanie. Larry should have been open and upfront about Jeanie's problems, so that others would be able to plan for any eventuality. If people who are sole caregivers for ailing family members do not have any kind of backup plans in place, it can make it very difficult for them when they are suddenly unable to care for that ailing family member anymore.
With Larry, the fact that he was active and relatively healthy should not have been the main issue. His age should have overshadowed that and told him that there was a possibility of something happening to him where he would not be able to take care of his wife in the same way that he had in the past. Because he did not consider this possibility or convey it to other people in the family, Jeanie ended up in a nursing home instead of with a family member or close friend who could give her the kind of care that she needed. Larry believed that it was his responsibility to care for his wife, and that is certainly admirable. However, it is unfortunate that he took that so far and that he assumed that he would have to be the only one to care for Jeanie. With her in the nursing home, she is not getting the kind of care that she would be getting from Larry, and he is concerned about her safety, happiness, and security. While this is understandable, it is also likely that Larry feels some semblance of guilt because he is no longer able to care for her.
Sole caregivers need to be brave enough to speak up and say that they need help, or at least to ensure that they have a plan in place for a time when they are no longer able to provide the level of care that they have provided in the past. By suspending their own values and beliefs and instead looking at the needs of the one for whom they care, they are better able to make the right choices for their partner, child, or other family member. Values and beliefs can be quite strong, however - especially in the older generation. Men were expected to care for their wives and their families, and that was simply the way things were done. No outside help was necessary, and it often was not even desired. Because of that, many elderly men today are "stuck" taking care of loved ones. They may care deeply for these people, but they need help and they are not willing to ask for that help.
They become frustrated with themselves for being unable to provide proper care, and they start to feel as though they have failed their spouse or other relative. That is not a good feeling, of course, but the problems could have been mitigated by asking for some help. That does not mean that Larry is to blame for the issues which he is facing. He is a product of society and his generation, and he may simply have never thought much about the possibility that he may not always be able to care for Jeanie properly....
Now that he has damaged his ankle and has been in the hospital for several days, he realizes that he left no option for Jeanie other than a nursing home. Family members can take Larry in because he does not require around-the-clock care, but they cannot take in Jeanie because they work full time and she needs more than they can offer to her. If Larry had been upfront about her condition from the beginning, he may have been able to make other arrangements for her and she would not have needed to go to the nursing home.
Larry was also understandably frustrated when he was in the hospital and did not understand why they were keeping him for several days. He may not see himself as frail even though he is advanced in age, and he may not understand why hospital staff did not make much effort to talk to him or to help him address why he was still in the hospital. In other words, Larry may have felt ignored - and he actually may have been ignored to some extent. Unfortunately, the current culture seems very focused on ignoring elderly people and treating them as though they are a burden, they do not matter, or they have nothing else to offer to society. These attitudes are part of society, but that does not make their assumptions true or accurate. Often, elderly people like Larry have much to offer to the other people around them, and they may be loving caregivers for other aging family members, such as Jeanie. Hospital workers do not always realize this.
One of the things Larry could have used while he was in the hospital was an advocate. This would have been someone who was younger than Larry, who was preferably a family member, and who would have "gone to bat" for Larry and made an effort to talk with the hospital staff and find out what the issue was. Why was Larry not being released? The case study, however, does not say anything about this kind of person being in Larry's life, and it does not mention family members coming to visit him at all. It seems quite possible that communication breakdowns and other problems have become so prevalent for Larry and his family that they are not close like they once were. That would be something to consider, because Larry may have isolated himself in caring for Jeanie. Even though he was a frequent visitor to football games in his area, that does not mean he went with other people in his family. Does Larry have friends, or has he pushed them away as he has gotten older and Jeanie's health has started to fail?
These are the kinds of issues that are faced by many elderly people in society today, because they are unsure as to how they can reconnect with others in their family unit without being a burden to those people. They may also have trouble with friendships, because their friends are dying off, moving away to be cared for by relatives, or going to nursing homes. It is highly likely that Larry did not realize how much isolation he has created for himself and Jeanie, and it is also quite possible that Jeanie was unable to stop it from taking place as her condition advanced and she became less certain about reality. Dementia can be a very hard diagnosis to accept, and it is often worse for the family who surrounds that person than it actually is for the person who is diagnosed with it. Did Larry get any kind of professional or therapeutic help to deal with his feelings about his wife's condition? Does he talk to anyone at all about the problems and the struggles and the fear with which he is dealing? From the information in the case, it appears that Larry has not addressed the issue with anyone, which could be harming him emotionally.
Elderly people need social networks that are made up of family members and friends who care about them. Despite that, many of them begin to isolate themselves because they have to care for an ailing spouse and/or they do not want to "burden" their other family members - such as siblings or children. For these elderly people, there can be a serious dilemma when something goes wrong with their health or with the health of the person for whom they are caring. They may not be clear on how they are going to continue with their caregiving, and they may find that there is not really anyone who can help them because they failed to mention to other people that they needed any kind of help at all - or that they might need help in the future if they are not able to care for someone else.
Another issue that makes things all the more frustrating for Larry is that the staff at the nursing home does not seem committed to attempting to help Jeanie stay healthy, clean, and well-fed. They let her wear other people's clothing, do not provide…
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