Sunday, April 30, 2017

Continuing Care for the Aging


About one of every six Americans provide unpaid care to an adult, according to the AARP. In many cases, this goes beyond custodial care and involves skilled nursing care.

Lately, three books have been published to help those who find themselves responsible for giving, selecting, or managing such care:

Douglas Winslow Cooper and Diane R. Beggin, How to Manage Nursing Care at Home.

Custodial care is the kind given to a highly dependent child or adult without major medical issues.

Nursing care is given by trained medical professionals, usually nurses.

Since care can be custodial or nursing, done at home or away, these alternatives produce four basic choices, four paths, discussed next.

Custodial Care at Home

A well infant or other highly dependent person needs help with the basic activities of daily living. Many of these can be provided by a sitter or a nurse’s aide, with instruction. Women who have raised children have many of the skills and much of the experience needed.

Encyclopedic coverage of the necessary activities is provided by the book by Tena Scallan, whose chapter titles cover the following topics: Patient Care, Communication, Hygiene and Personal Care, Medication, Patient Care Records, Vital Signs, Caring and Maintaining a Healthy Environment, Nutrition, Body Mechanics and Transferring, Infection Control, Safety, Emotions, Legalities, Expenses, Informational Document Planner, Resource Guide, Glossary.

In fact, Ms. Scallan’s book is so complete that it is useful in all four situations under discussion here.

Custodial Care away from Home

If your mother or father or spouse has Alzheimer’s, for example, you may not be able to handle it at home. Rick Lauber’s book comes from his experience with parents having, respectively, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

He focuses on the decisions surrounding choosing a facility and then optimizing the experience of the loved ones placed there. His chapter titles are informative, too: Defining Caregiving, Caring From a Distance, Finding Suitable Accommodations, Moving Your Parent, Organizing Your Parents Documents, Visiting Day, Maintaining Harmony When Working with Family Members, Caring For Yourself, Remaining Active, Men and Women Care Differently, Obamacare: What It Means For Seniors and Family Caregivers, Mobility Aids and Emergency Safety Devices, Finding Joy in Caregiving, Final Thoughts, Worksheets.

Nursing Care at Home

Based on our experience giving home nursing care for my quadriplegic, ventilator-dependent wife, Tina, our own head nurse, Diane R. Beggin, RN, and I wrote our book for those who contemplate managing nursing care at home. As an outline, its chapter titles are informative: Why Home? Not a Nursing Home, or Hospice; Where? Organizing Your Home; What? Equipment and Supplies; When? Starting, Scheduling, Stopping; Who? Hiring and Managing Nurses; How? Preventing, Prescribing, Charting, Explaining, Traveling, Hospitalizations, Infection and Contamination Control, HIPAA, Nursing Care Plan; Long-Term Care Insurance; Employer's Medical Insurance: Our Experience; Diagnosing and Reducing Your Medical Bill; Nervous System; Respiratory System; Cardiovascular System; The Lymphatic and Immune Systems and Cancer; Gastrointestinal (Digestive) System; Endocrine System and Diabetes; Reproductive And Urinary Systems; Integumentary (Skin) System; Musculoskeletal System; References; Five Tips For Empowered Caregivers; Custodial Care at Home; Acts of Kindness Toward Caregivers; The Successful Caregivers Guide; Nursing Care Plan Example; Exhibit Listing.

Nursing Care away from Home
In this situation, your loved ones are in a hospital or hospice setting. Each of these books has information you will find valuable, but the responsibility has largely been taken on by others. Still, understanding what is being done and how it should be done can empower you to participate in decision-making regarding the patient. Although “a watched pot never boils,” a watched patient probably gets better care than one not being checked on frequently.

Summing Up

We are each likely to be involved in providing care or making decisions about care for someone we love. The books described here can help.


Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a former Harvard science professor. He still publishes, and he helps others write and publish their books via his business website, His life's central theme has been his half-century romance with his wife, Tina Su Cooper, now quadriplegic for over a decade due to multiple sclerosis, receiving 24/7 nursing care at home, as discussed in his latest book.

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