In This Issue  
Home    |    About Us    |    Meet Debbie    |    Meet Friends    |    Prayer    |    Contact Us
Share Print this page Print Email to a friendEmail

< Back to Food 4 Thought

10 Things We Did Right in a Time of Crisis Care, Part 1

     Nothing can fully prepare you for a sudden family crisis, but with a little thought and preparation, you can navigate the unexpected stormy waters of caring for a loved one.

     My sister and I were faced with this situation when our mother’s car accident began a new and long journey for our family, which is still in progress.

Our Story:

     Mom was in pretty bad shape the first time I saw her.  Her neck was in a brace, she was in quite a bit of pain and somehow she looked frail.  My sister, Jeaneen, and I stayed with her and began notifying family, friends, Mom’s pastor, and our friends, letting them know what had happened and asking for prayer. 

     There seemed to be several phases of the crisis: the first night in the hospital, the duration of Mom’s hospital stay, the rehab experience and the journey back home.  While Mom is doing very well now, the first night and subsequent nights in the hospital were scary.  We made a lot of mistakes, like me forgetting to call Mom’s sister! However, we instinctively did a lot of things right.  I could feel the prayer of others throughout the ordeal.  I also think my sister and I worked pretty well together in caring for our Mom and managing things through the days, weeks and months that came.

     We were fortunate to be able to respond and participate in our mom’s journey back to health. Although this was new for us, we realized that we did a lot of things right, without knowing it, including making some key decisions. The one thing for sure that we realized is that no one takes care of your loved one like you do.

     Here, we will share some of those key decisions with you:

“The 10 Things we did right without knowing what to do.”  

  1. Communicate your crisis and alert others to your loved one’s situation. Call the family, pastor and family doctor.
  2. Be responsive. Keep your loved one’s phone.  I almost turned it off and then realized that it could be a tool in helping us communicate what had just happened to our mom.  In those first 48 hours this was really helpful.
  3. Determine that your loved one will make progress. After a week in the hospital, when the rehab assessment representative came to evaluate Mom and where they were going to place her – Jeaneen had her out of the bed and sitting up!  It was really hard for mom.  She was still in pain and was uncomfortable.  I personally believe this was a huge decision in the facility’s decision for how to handle mom’s rehab and PT. They started at a different place because she was able to get out of bed – and had proved it!    
  4. Be there.  Nothing can replace you being there and getting involved in the care and decisions of your loved one.  You cannot be there too much for your loved one.  Jeaneen is a wife, mother, homemaker, friend and daughter. She already has a busy life with two teenage daughters still at home.   I am a professor, consultant, coach, friend and daughter; I have a busy life.  We did everything we could to be there as much as possible, particularly when the doctors came, through the night and on the weekends.  No matter what they say – weekend and night care is not at the same level as weekday care – not in the hospital – not in rehab. With the exception of one hour, we provided 24/7 accompaniment for mom during her hospital stay. There is no substitute for being there.
  5. Write it down. Get a journal, keep notes, write notes, write questions.  Log medications, concerns, habits and patterns.  From the first moment we kept everything from what Mom complained about (pain, nausea discomfort)  who stopped by to visit, what they brought her to eat, what she ate, medications dispensed, tests run, what the doctors said, when the aids came in, who did what.  Everything.  We kept our questions in the log.  At one point when the doctors were making rounds, they handed me the journal when I couldn’t remember a question I was going to ask.  The doctor said, “Yyou probably wrote in here.” 
  6. Bring clothes to rehab.  They took Mom to rehab at 5 pm on a Monday evening, pretty much in time for dinner, settling in and going to sleep. Jeaneen had picked up (don’t know when she had time to do this) three pair of comfortable cropped pants with wide legs (Mom had a broken ankle thus a cast on her right foot).  This was perfect!  All I had to do was bring a few tops and personal items from home for Mom.  This immediately set the tone for transition time.  This wasn’t just hospital care extended, this was rehab.
  7. Coordinate schedules. In rehab we worked hard to be sure someone was there for Mom’s therapy appointments, lunch, dinner with Mom.  Everyone helped us with this--siblings, Mom’s brother and friends.
  8. Let people help.  My uncle was able to keep Mom’s dog for over a week.  This was huge.  I didn’t have to get home to let the dog out, feed her or wonder how she was. 
  9. Get the phone numbers.  I programmed every phone number into my cell. In the hospital, I programmed in the floor nurse’s station, the doctor’s beeper.  In Rehab, I programmed in the floor station.   It came in handy for getting in touch with people when needed.  I had the numbers and didn’t have to hunt for them.
  10. Listen to and include your loved one. While we were working hard to take care of Mom, she had concerns of her own. There were several things that mattered to her from her everyday life and she needed assurance that these things were taken care of.  No matter what priority we may or may not have given these things, they ranked high for Mom. Taking care of them was important to her and her peace of mind. We included mom as much as we could.  Jeaneen really helped keep this a priority. It had become easy to just make decisions for Mom particularly when she couldn’t make them for herself, but as her condition changed and as she intentionally engaged in her recovery (several days into the process), we had to make adjustments in how we were handling things. Listening to Mom and including her in the decisions was an important factor in her successful recovery. 

     It was evident that our instincts kicked in to help us.  Although, Jeaneen has an MS in Social Work with a concentration in gerontology, and we both have professional degrees and experience, we were surprised that in many cases, God had both naturally and supernaturally prepared us for what we would face.   We could feel the prayers of many people for our Mom and for us as we navigated this unknown territor

     Since everything is a learning experience and no one knows everything the first time, next month’s article will be 10 things we wish would have done.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Diane Wiater, Ph.D.

Reader Comments...
2011-02-25 18:46:36
"Thank you for sharing some very important info for crisis management. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way, when my husband needed a mitral valve replacement, leading to a rare blood disorder, then kidney failure and resulting dialysis before a difficult kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Wow, that is a mouthful to say so it is probably alot to take in in one sentence. The prayer of others related through email and facebook, the "notebook" of all info from doctors, nurses, meds and procedures, and an open, trusting, faithful belief in God got me and my husband through it all!!! Thanks for sharing what worked for you and your mother."
        - Ellen

Post Your Comment...

First Name
Last Name
e-mail   (We will not re-distribute your e-mail.)

Share on Facebook Share
Print this page Print This Page
Email to a friendEmail Article to a Friend

< Back to Food 4 Thought

More Great Articles

My Friend Debbie - Turn Old Man Winter Into A Breath of Fresh AirHome & Hospitality

Turn Old Man Winter Into A Breath of Fresh Air
My Friend Debbie - Chicken and Rice CasseroleKitchen Keeper Recipes

Chicken and Rice Casserole
My Friend Debbie - Corolla, NC with GirlfriendsTravel

Corolla, NC with Girlfriends