Good Childcare Gives Peace of Mind

The parenting experience is precious and overwhelming.

In fact, according to Pew Research Center, about 41% say being a parent is tiring and 29% say it is stressful all or most of the time. But you already know that don’t you?

Three practical mental health tips

  • Ration your exposure to negative thoughts and negative media. This helps to not add things to your worry list.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of sharing the “real story” of your parenting struggles with others. Knowing you are not alone lifts some of the weight.
  • Play with your children. This is a proven way to relieve stress. It sounds simple, but play can get lost in the business of life and the use of our phones. Whether it’s playing a game, building Legos or dancing or singing together, when you’re enjoying play with a child, your body releases endorphins that promote a feeling of well-being.

The article titled, “How to Reduce Stress” by the Parenting arm of Unicef has simple, proven ways for parents to manage stress and provides guidance on recognizing stress, managing anger, self care and when to seek help.

The National Parenting Helpline, operated by Parents Anonymous is available 24/7 and is a “judgment-free, compassionate space for those in need of immediate emotional support”.

Support for You While You Help Others

Sometimes we find mental health resources for employees who are helping a parent or older adult, like our support for Holly.

  • Holly was feeling stuck and anxious as a result of the behavior of her father who at 60 had early onset dementia. His behavior was very defensive and demanding.
  • Her Ways & Wane care advisor coached her on what to expect from dementia behaviors and how to respond, but also helped her find a therapist in her network that fit the profile and therapy approach she wanted.
  • Holly set up therapy and has found tremendous support because of it. Her care advisor also provided two dementia-focused caregiver support groups for Holly and her sister. Holly sent this message to her Care Advisor, “I greatly appreciate you, and you make this whole scary process a lot less scary, so thank you.

Address an Older Adult’s Depression

According to the CDC, it is estimated that 20% of people aged 55 years or older experience some type of mental health concern. The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder). Sometimes we find a specialized therapist for the older adult, like for Mason’s mom.

  • Mason reached out to us feeling very concerned about his 67 year old mom who had become depressed as a direct result of a chronic health condition. She was overwhelmed and isolated at home because of it. He described her as “having more bad days than good days”. His mom was open to talking to a therapist.
  • Mason’s Ways & Wane care advisor found her a local provider that specializes in helping people cope with chronic medical illnesses. He said, “the psychologist she got through the list you provided, she’s been seeing and absolutely loves.”
  • Mason shared that his mom is now having “more good days than bad days” and has gone from staying isolated at home to getting out and about again. This solution allowed Mason to worry less about his mom and focus more on work.

An Older Adult’s Mental Illness

Having a safe place to share the little known truth of what’s going on with your family can be incredibly empowering, like with Jessie.

  • Jessie’s mom had suffered from undiagnosed mental illness for most of her life. Now at 62, divorced from their father and living with Jessie’s sister, her mother’s behavior was becoming unmanageable for both Jessie and her sister. They had been immobilized by their mother’s mental illness for years and had no clear understanding of their options.
  • Jessie’s Ways & Wane care advisor provided possible solutions, including the steps for establishing guardianship in their state. Jessie shared: “I provided [Ways & Wane] with a multitude of issues/problems and they have provided me with as much, and even more, in possible solutions.”
  • After her work with us, she described herself as having “optimism and hope” for her family’s future for the first time in a long time.

Older Adult in the Hospital?

Your cell phone rings in the middle of your work day. It’s your brother calling to tell you that something happened with mom’s heart and she’s in the hospital. It’s a very scary call. Almost as scary as trying to figure out what to do next. The information here will help you know what your next steps should be.

Keep this on your radar
Don’t assume the older adult’s spouse or partner is able to be their advocate. Between the stress of the situation and a generation that may not be comfortable questioning doctors, hands-on support from you or someone else in the family (even virtually) may be necessary.

Keep an eye out to help manage the non-hospitalized partner’s stress and needs. Their circle of friends can be called upon to help with transportation to and from the hospital, meals or companionship. It’s a generation that is used to showing up in times of need.

When you live far away from the older adult

  • First, call the hospital’s nurse desk and make sure they have your name, number and relation to the patient.
  • If the current status or care plan is unclear to those involved, ask the nurse to connect you with the Social Worker on staff. The Social Worker can arrange a meeting with the doctor who can explain the situation.
  • “Do I need to be there?” It’s the million dollar question. If you aren’t sure if you should be there in person, ask the nurse and/or doctor if they would recommend that a family member be present.
  • Don’t be afraid to call the nurse desk for updates. The ideal time frame to reach them is likely between 12-5pm since it’s after morning rounds and between shift changes.

Keeping track of it all
Keep detailed notes capturing the names, titles and dates of who you speak with and their role in the care being provided. Frequently there are various care providers and it’s easy to lose track of who said what and when. You can download the Notes During a Hospital Stay template, which offers suggested questions for the medical team and space for notes.

The Ways & Wane GoKit Medical Planner is a great place to keep these notes. Once you’ve set it up to use, the older adult’s PCP, list of allergies and medicines can be found there. Additionally, the portable GoKit Planner has slots for insurance cards, IDs and envelopes for copies of care directives.

The hospital discharge process

  • Use the GoKit Medical Planner’s suggested questions to ask prior to discharge and keep notes there. Or download our Hospital/Nursing Home Discharge form with suggested questions and space for notes.
  • Go through the discharge notes with the nursing staff in order to clarify any questions.
  • Make sure to explain the home environment to the care providers, specifically if there are any steps in the home, a spouse who cannot manage care needs for another, a lack of transportation to get prescriptions or to receive follow-up care, etc.
  • If the doctor deems medical equipment to be necessary (such as a shower chair or bed side commode) it is usually covered by a regular Medicare policy.

IMPORTANT: If the older adult is being discharged to a rehabilitation facility, they will likely receive a list of facility options from the Social Worker. This is usually a pre-formulated list of options, but they are not vetted or screened in any way. In fact, there have been numerous times we have found that the list provided by the hospital included rehabilitation facilities that have been flagged for abuse.

Child in the Hospital?

If you find yourself having to navigate a hospital admission for your child, there are two very helpful and yet little known resources available to support you and your child.

A Child Life Specialist

A Child Life Specialist is a healthcare professional whose role is focused on the psychosocial needs of the patient, including mental, emotional, and social needs.

This support can include:

  • Develop age-appropriate strategies to minimize trauma and increase understanding of a medical diagnosis through treatments plans using therapeutic play, education, preparation, and activities that promote growth and development
  • Supporting children and their families by using a variety of tactics to help them better understand a process, procedure, or other element of their medical experience
  • Advocating for the special needs of children and their families
  • Providing information, support, and guidance to parents and family members
  • Collaborating with the health care team to coordinate and manage care

Your child’s nurse or a Social Worker can ask the Child Life Specialist to reach out to you.

TIP: Since they tend to be in high demand and there may be just one of them at the hospital, put in a request as early as possible. Once you do, provide your phone and email so that it’s even easier for them to reach you.

A Social Worker

The hospital Social Worker can provide help to cope with the effects of your child’s illness on your family. They can support with both immediate and longer term practical and psychological challenges, such as:

  • Resources to care for other children while your child is in the hospital
  • Reimbursement for parking or public transport to/from the hospital
  • Meals while in the hospital caring for your child
  • Options for where to stay if you need to be close to the hospital
  • Ways to pay for care
  • An assessment of your family’s needs in relation to your child’s health event
  • Referrals to community resources
  • Short-term counseling to help your family adjust
  • Help in understanding and learning strategies to effectively deal with behavior

Your child’s nurse can put a request in for a Social Worker to reach out to you.

TIP: Get the Social Worker’s specific contact information so that you can proactively reach out to them. Once you do, provide your phone and email so that it’s even easier for them to reach you.

This short, but very informative “Eight Ways You Can Help Your Child Cope While at the Hospital” by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network may be helpful as well.