Caregivers Corner: Preparing For The Future

Imperial, California (NAPSI) - It’s always best to plan in advance.


Thelma Duggin, a former health industry CEO, knew this to be true in business and in life, but when it came to the life of her mother Elizabeth, advance planning was a pretty tough sell.

Elizabeth was in her late 80s at the time and living alone in her Alabama home. Duggin sensed that her mother could use help doing light chores around the house. Her greatest concern, however, centered on Elizabeth’s overall care as she continued to age.

Fortunately for Duggin, she had access to a program called Solutions for Caregivers, available through her workplace’s employee assistance program, that has nurses assess a family’s situation and needs, develop a care plan and discuss recommendations with the whole family.

Duggin and her siblings, none of whom live in Alabama, arranged for Solutions for Caregivers to develop a care plan for Elizabeth. She was assigned a case manager named Kathy Hawk to work directly with Elizabeth at her home.

The way Duggin saw it, “It’s better to do this before they need it.”

But there was an issue.

“Mom did not want it,” Duggin said.

It turned out this simple step helped the whole family outpace a series of potential problems. When an illness placed Elizabeth in the hospital, she asked to receive care from her former physician. Kathy filled out the paperwork to enable that to happen. Elizabeth’s condition required her to receive care at a skilled nursing facility; Kathy rated different facilities and found one that most closely met Elizabeth’s needs. She took the reins when Elizabeth developed diabetes and, later, a blood clot.

“It comes down to peace of mind for your loved one,” said Duggin. “You feel totally comfortable and confident. Kathy will pick up on things when she talks to our mother that we won’t. It’s been a lifesaver.”

Now 91, Elizabeth remains active and actively involved with her family. This past Thanksgiving, Thelma Duggin, her two sisters and brother took Elizabeth to Jamaica, after getting Kathy’s OK. “Kathy did everything,” Duggin said. “[She located a] cardiologist, gave us a list of what to do, got [Elizabeth’s] glucose readings and blood tests. It’s almost like somebody is doing everything for you and you have the confidence that it will get done right.”

Elizabeth now resides in assisted living. She talks with Kathy weekly and Kathy sends the family a weekly report.

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