after many recommendations and being on my “to read” list for a while, I finally sat down (well, on my busrides) and read A Bitter Pill: how the medical system is failing the elderly by Dr. John Sloan, a physician in Vancouver, BC, who now provides homecare healthcare to frail older adults.
The book talks about how the healthcare system is not providing for needs of a growing older adult population. His thoughts are that older adults needs are only met once we start to see them as individuals, with individual care needs. And that often by following standardized clinical care guidelines (or “cookbook care“) we are doing more harm than good.
He introduces lots of care-stories as well as different views his older patients have on dying, that range from “I don’t want to die with sombody I love hating what they have to do for me. I’ve had a great life, now it’s over.” to “I’m not ready, no way! I might miss something!”
The answer to the question “what do older adults want?” is discussed throughout, and in the end the only answer is “they want us to listen“. How true! Just to genuinely be there and listen to their stories, complaints, needs, etc. … who doesn’t want that? And at the end of their life, that is what might provide them with the most comfort and affection.
caregiving is never easy. it takes a big heart, courage to do right by the person you’re caring for, the strength to carry around the significance of the role, and lots of patience… no matter if your role is personal or professional!
Success should be measured by:
- staying true to what’s happening
- listening to what the person wants
- treating them as individual human beings
- accepting they may be near the end of their lives
- and don’t try to hide mixed-feeling about the job… it’s not always an easy burden to bear!
Encouraging new attitudes in health care, as Dr. Sloan mentions, will only improve care for everyone! It’s a very honest read that I highly recommend, and a much needed change in heart for healthcare. much love.