Effective Patient Education Strategies
The Caring Generation® – Episode 61 October 28, 2020. On this caregiver radio program, Pamela D Wilson Caregiving Expert shares Effective Patient Education Strategies. Guest Eric Carlson Directing Attorney at Justice in Aging talks about Nursing Home Resident Rights.
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Effective Patient Education Strategies
00:03 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.
00:47 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on conversations about health, well-being, caring for ourselves and loved ones, all tied together with a little bit of humor and laughter, essential to being a caregiver. The topic for this caregiving radio program is Effective Patient Education Strategies. If you’re like most consumers, you hear the words patient education strategy, and you’re wondering, “What does this mean? What on earth is she talking about?” Patient education is a term used by the healthcare system that has a goal of helping caregivers and patients of all ages understand and be proactive about health and medical conditions. Some patient education strategies have a secondary purpose of preventing or minimizing the health conditions that happen when you receive a health diagnosis.
01:56 Pamela D. Wilson: I want to share information about three Caring Generation podcasts that feature interviews with medical specialists: A cardiologist, an endocrinologist, and a gastroenterologist. These offer effective patient education strategies that provide recommendations to manage high blood pressure, diabetes, and stomach concerns. For example, if left untreated, high blood pressure can damage arteries that can eventually become blocked. The result can be a heart attack, stroke, other heart diseases, and kidney failure. High blood pressure can lead to circulatory issues and even a diagnosis of dementia. If you have high blood pressure or know someone who does, there is an informative interview with the cardiologist, Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley, on my podcast called, Why Caregiving Takes More Than Love. I’ll put a link in the show transcript.
02:53 Pamela D. Wilson: Diabetes is another health condition that, if not diagnosed or managed, has serious health consequences that include heart disease, nerve and kidney damage, vision and dental problems, foot wounds, skin conditions, and even depression. If you or someone you know has diabetes, you might want to listen to my interview with endocrinologist Dr. Mayer Davidson about diabetes prevention and management. It’s on the Caring Generation podcast called, Why is Patient Education and Engagement so Important? The third one. Cigarette smoking poses long-term risks that affect multiple body systems. My mom was a lifelong smoker. She had heart disease that progressed to a need for quadruple bypass heart surgery. She had mini-strokes, clogged arteries, severe stomach issues, constant indigestion, a hiatal hernia. In my opinion, she was just miserable. She was eventually diagnosed with bladder cancer, that was a result of cigarette smoking. My mother died at the young age of 69. Her death had a significant influence on my life, my beliefs, and my habits about health, and the reason that I have this career in health caregiving and geriatric care.
04:13 Pamela D. Wilson: The Caring Generation radio show called, I’m So Tired of Being a Caregiver features an interview with a gastroenterologist, Dr. Brooks Cash, who talks about smoking and digestive problems. All of these interviews reinforce the idea of effective patient education strategies. The guest for this caregiving radio program’s health and wellness segment is Eric Carlson. He is Directing Attorney from Justice in Aging. Eric has broad experience in many forms of long-term services and supports, including home and community-based services, nursing home care, and assisted living facilities. He led Justice in Aging’s extensive research on Medicaid-funded assisted living, and he’s currently leading a project to advance consumer advocacy on Medicaid-managed long-term care services. Eric joins us to talk about nursing home resident rights in this program’s second and third segments. This might be interesting to you if you have parents who are living in long-term care communities or assisted living communities, and right now, you’re being prevented to visit, or they have other restrictions in place.
05:23 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s return to the topic of what on earth are effective patient education strategies? I want to turn this subject backward and approach it from the consumer, caregiver, and patient perspective so that you have a better understanding of why communication from the healthcare system doesn’t always work out and how you can get the care you need and want from the healthcare system.
05:47 Pamela D. Wilson: I’ll begin talking about communication basics and look at ten areas to help you be more effective as a healthcare consumer, a patient, or a caregiver. Let’s begin with information about the foundation of challenges related to effective patient education strategies. This foundation starts with communication, information being relayed back and forth between the healthcare system, consumers, patients, and caregivers. According to the US Department of Education, National Assessment of Adult Literacy, nine out of 10 adults have difficulty using everyday health information that is routinely available from the healthcare system, the community, the media, or the Internet.
06:30 Pamela D. Wilson: The statistic is concerning, keeping in mind that we have an aging population that is experiencing physical and cognitive changes and caregivers who will be taking care of these elderly adults. Sources of communication, whether person to person or in written form, all have good intentions of being helpful. The first gap to creating effective patient education strategies is to find the right communication and the right way to deliver it. Let’s talk about the basics of communication and common glitches. Every day we have conversations with people in our families, our friends, and the workplace. How often does this communication go well, and everything is clearly understood? How often does the opposite happen? Communication happens, and something goes wrong. For communication to be successful, interest, and attention by both parties is critical. For most of us, unless we choose to be selective about where and how we focus our daily attention, there’s too much information coming at us from the news, social media, and other places. This means that we have difficulty paying attention and focusing. Most of us place our attention on today, on immediate issues.
07:40 Pamela D. Wilson: If a problem isn’t “knock, knock, knocking” on our door, if it’s not tapping on our shoulders saying, “pay attention to me,” we may choose not to take preventative action or be interested in learning about things that might happen tomorrow as a caregiver. If your situation feels out of control, adding time for learning into your already busy, chaotic, hectic schedule, even though that learning can save you time, money and stress, may seem beyond what you feel that you can do. More about effective patient strategies, we’re going to talk about in the second half of this program. I’ll share ten ideas to help consumers, patients and caregivers to advocate for the care that you need and want. Helpful information and tips for caregivers is on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com, in my Caring for Aging Parents blog, and every Wednesday night here on this radio show. Invite your family, your friends, your colleagues to join us and put a podcast app on the cellphone of your elderly parents.
08:42 Pamela D. Wilson: Up next, we have Eric Carlson, Directing Attorney at Justice in Aging. He’s going to talk about nursing home resident rights. I’m Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation radio show, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
11:22 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio show for caregivers and aging adults, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Joining us is Eric Carlson, Directing Attorney at Justice in Aging, to talk about nursing home resident rights. Eric, welcome to the show.
11:43 Eric Carlson: Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be here.
11:46 Pamela D. Wilson: So let’s talk about hospital emergency rooms that are rushed to discharge patients. Patients are transferred to nursing homes without really being involved in the decision about where they are going. What should patients know about that discharge process and their right to choose where they go?
12:06 Eric Carlson: The first thing they should know is that it’s not the hospital’s decision—that each of us are human beings with some rights to make decisions. We, in general, see the doctors that we choose to see and go to the hospitals that we choose to go to, and then enter the nursing facilities that we choose to enter. So it should be the resident’s choice in deciding which nursing facility to go to. If, first of all, to decide if a nursing facility is appropriate, to begin with, of course. And if it’s the decision, we would hope an informed decision based on conversations with the health professionals—that the nursing facility is the right choice. Then the resident should make the decision with the information provided by the hospital and gathered independently.
12:55 Eric Carlson: Now, I get it. From what I’m saying, they sound like an imaginary world to people who are just presented with the need to make a decision and with a time schedule that may suggest that they need to be out in six hours or 18 hours, or whatever it is. I hear that people need to do the best that they can to say, “No, I’m not going until I know where I want to go, and you need to give me enough time to make that decision.” There’ll be some pushing and pulling. I get it—and there’ll be some pressure. But it is in resident’s interest to make sure that they’re making intelligent decisions because it matters, and they shouldn’t let hospitals or other folks push them around.
13:40 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and thank you for sharing that, because a lot of hospitals—and you know this—they try to discharge Friday at 3 o’clock and they haven’t told families anything. Which leads me to talk about nursing home agreements—some of these are 20-40 pages long. I’ve worked through them myself. What are the dangers within those nursing home agreements for consumers?
14:03 Eric Carlson: I’ll just make the big picture, I’m sure. I think what I say in general to a lot of these questions is that people need to be prepared to make some ways or to say no or to assert their rights a little bit, and in general, that people may feel uncomfortable because of that, but that’s okay. That’s what you need to do because the alternative is worse if you just allow yourself to be jerked around. So in the context that you raise here in admission agreements, the danger is that people are given this document, and they just sign it, and then they maybe have a little queasy feeling in their stomach that says, “What is all this stuff anyway? Why am I agreeing to this?” But they feel uncomfortable pushing back.
14:54 Eric Carlson: There are some problems. There’s some horrible problems in these nursing facility admission agreements. They may purport to limit the kind of care that people are entitled to, they may list illegitimate reasons for eviction. They may try to make family members and friends liable for the nursing facility bill. This so-called Responsible Party Provision, which is generally not allowed under the federal Nursing Home Reform Law, and they may provide for arbitration. Which limits people’s rights to sue the nursing facility if, unfortunately, there’s some problem or injury due to the care that’s provided. People need to slow down. Look at them. Cross out provisions that are inappropriate. In any case, those are the dangers, and then we can maybe talk about what kind of practical steps you need to do to address those.
15:51 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and that is the next question. So let’s say a person is sent to a nursing home, and they get there, and they get this agreement, and to your point, they don’t like some of the information in there. So they don’t want to sign it. What do they do? What happens?
16:07 Eric Carlson: The first thing to remember, I would suggest is that if the person is already in the nursing facility, the facility administration has limited options. There are limited reasons for eviction from a nursing facility, and refusal to sign an admission agreement is not one of those. So, the resident is holding a lot of cards if he or she has already been physically admitted to the nursing facility—it’s a little bit trickier. And that’s usually the situation, in my experience, the person is usually in the facility, and then the administration, the admission coordinator, for example, gets around to sharing the document. But in either case, whether you’re in the facility or not quite in the facility, I would suggest making revisions. Crossing things out and explaining, in many cases, like, “This is inappropriate.” You want to do a little bit of research ahead of time. Presumably, you have, and so you’ll be able to say, “This is an inappropriate provision.” Or, it’s also legitimate to say, This is 40 pages. I would like to read this, please.”
17:26 Eric Carlson: And oftentimes, the facility will give you that time, and there’s enough time to look at it and then come back and point out what’s wrong with it. A quick personal anecdote here. And this is true in a lot of these healthcare sort of situations. Just change the document. I had outpatient surgery a couple of years ago, and so my own real-life experience with these things. There was an arbitration agreement in this document at 6:00 in the morning. I’m waiting for the anesthesia, and I had the same sense, I think a lot of consumers feel like, “What’s going to happen if I don’t sign this?” But fortunately, I’ve had enough professional experience with this to push back against my worries and just cross it out. I give it back to the coordinator. They don’t know what to do with that, right? I’m in a bad position at that point, but they’re in a much worse position. You’re not dealing with the lawyers, you’re dealing with someone who’s just trying to get through their day and they accept it. And so, people have more power than they think. They really do. They just have to assert it.
18:35 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and I thank you for bringing that up because I think consumers feel very threatened by some of these agreements, and they’re fearful that if they don’t sign them, they’re going to be in trouble. So, listeners, we will continue our conversation with Eric Carlson from Justice in Aging about nursing home resident rights after this break. The podcast of this radio show for caregivers, including showed transcripts that you can read for all of The Caring Generation shows, are on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com. Look for the Media tab, scroll down to The Caring Generation radio show tab. I’m Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.
21:30 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. We’re back to continue our conversation with Eric Carlson, Directing Attorney at Justice in Aging, on the subject of nursing home resident rights. Eric, can you talk about the care planning process? How can residents use it to receive appropriate and personalized care?
21:56 Eric Carlson: First thing—we’ll get back to our main theme—which is the resident has some control here under the federal nursing facility regulations. Which apply across the country. There needs to be a care planning process. The resident should drive it to the extent possible. What should happen is that the resident—maybe a family member as well—get together with the facility staff and figure out what the resident wants. Too often, I’ll say that these care planning sessions are perfunctorily driven by what the facility intends to do. So residents and family members need to prepare for that, to make a list ahead of time, think, “Okay, what do I want?” The facility has an obligation to make reasonable accommodations to residents’ preferences. So think about that. Make a list and go into the care planning meeting to say, “I would like this, this, this, this, and this,” or whatever it may be. And don’t be shy. The nursing facility is getting paid thousands of dollars a month. It’s completely fair to ask that they provide the services that you want. You’re living there 24/7, and they should be accommodating to your preferences to the extent that that’s reasonable.
23:12 Pamela D. Wilson: So can a nursing home provide a lower level of care to residents who are on Medicaid?
23:20 Eric Carlson: Well, there’s a short answer to that, and the answer is no. [chuckle] Not at all. Yet again, it happens. I know that in a lot of nursing facilities, there’s this idea, the continual focus on how much Medicaid pays and continual complaining about, “well, we lose $4.18 a day on each Medicaid resident,” etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Residents should not, and their family members should not listen to that, should not give it any credence. This is the reality. The nursing facility promised the state and the federal government to take Medicaid. They don’t have to be certified for Medicaid, but they’ve chosen to be certified for Medicaid, and they’ve promised to obey the law, to provide a high level of service for the reimbursement that Medicaid is paying. So it’s completely inappropriate for them to make those promises. Take the money and then turn around to the resident and family member and say, “well, yeah, we took the money. But we don’t really think it’s enough so we’re not going to do a good job for you.” No other business could do that and say, “oh, yeah, we’re taking the money, but because we don’t think it’s enough, we’re not going to meet the professional level of care.” So residents and family members should not accept it—should push back hard if there’s any suggestion that Medicaid-eligible folks are getting second class services.
24:44 Pamela D. Wilson: How are residents protected against being evicted?
24:52 Eric Carlson: There are strong protections against eviction. Yyou can only be forced out for six reasons: Non-payment, the facility’s going of business, you need more than nursing facility care, you don’t need nursing facility care, you’re a danger to people’s health, or you’re a danger to people’s safety. And it’s very limited and the thing to remember is, the scope of nursing facility care is broad. Most attempted evictions come from a nursing facility claiming that they can’t meet a person’s needs or that the person is dangerous in some way. But in my experience, those arguments are almost always bogus because the person belongs in the nursing facility. They may be “difficult.” They may have dementia, they may call out at night, but the important thing to remember here is that nursing facilities are set up to care with people with dementia. That’s why they exist.
25:44 Eric Carlson: So what should happen in those sorts of situation is not allegations of inappropriate behavior and attempted eviction. But instead the care planning process. Going back talking to the resident and family member, figuring out what to do. I’m not a clinician, but I understand that you need to listen to people with dementia. They’re not misbehaving. They’re responding appropriately as it were—given the illness that they have, and the facility should be providing services and making accommodations rather than talking about eviction.
26:18 Pamela D. Wilson: And can you talk about the resource library on the Justice in Aging website and what consumers might be able to find there?
26:26 Eric Carlson: Absolutely. I would suggest that the most useful resource is a guide called 25 Common Nursing Home Problems & How to Resolve Them. It’s available for free, as a free download for our website, and for each of 25 common problems, and some of which we’ve addressed here, essentially, the book explains in a very step-by-step way how residents and family members can push back. It points out the false statements, we can call them lies, I guess, that nursing facilities often state. So identify the false statement. Identify the federal law, the truth, the appropriate rule, and then talk about what a family member or resident can do in advocating for pushing back and getting the care and attention that the resident needs. That’s useful for residents, for family members, for nursing facility staff, or people in the aging network, for attorneys; broadly, broadly applicable. In addition, there’s a lot of COVID-related resources, nursing facility-specific and non-nursing facility-specific as well. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the website, I suppose, which is…
27:51 Pamela D. Wilson: Thank you.
27:55 Eric Carlson: Yes, www.justiceinaging.org.
27:55 Pamela D. Wilson: I was going to ask. [chuckle]
27:57 Eric Carlson: Yes, absolutely. I appreciate it. You’d go to any search engine, it’s Justice in Aging, and the website is justiceinaging.org.
28:08 Pamela D. Wilson: And so for that 25 common tips, is there a drop-down that they search for, or is there a report tab? Where do they find that?
28:17 Eric Carlson: You click on Nursing Facility tab. You may have to go from Resources to Nursing Facility. Sometimes, depending on what else is going on, it may be right up on the Home page. Sometimes you have to go one level below that, but if you focus at Resources and Nursing Homes, it’ll pop right up for you. Below is the link to the publication.
28:41 Pamela D. Wilson: Okay, well, and I will search for it, and I’ll put it in the show transcript, and if for some reason I can’t find it, I’ll email you, and then you can send me the link, and I’ll make sure that I post it in here for everybody on the show. Eric, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been an amazing interview. You gave a lot of helpful information for families who I think feels threatened in many cases by nursing homes and these big agreements that they don’t understand and everything. Listeners, invite your friends and family to join us every Wednesday night for these conversations about caregiving, aging, health care, family relationships, and everything in between. This is Pamela D. Wilson, your host on The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. The show will be up in about a week for you. I will promise I’ll put those links in to the Justice in Aging website. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
31:51 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults, live on the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Let’s return to the idea of how consumers, patients, and caregivers can get what you want, and you need from the healthcare system. Effective patient education strategies are most successful with consumers, patients, and caregivers who understand the benefit of making time for education and planning because this is where the gaps begin. The relevance and importance of education and planning begin with families from the time we are children to the time we leave our parents’ homes and beyond. If health and prevention weren’t a focus growing up, consumers should seek out ways to learn about health and prevention—to live without sickness today. This is why nine in ten consumers have difficulty using healthcare information.
32:46 Pamela D. Wilson: So let’s start with tip number one to get what you need and want from the healthcare system—it’s understanding health conditions. How many of you go to the doctor every year for a check-up? After grade school or high school, sometimes college, when health physicals are required—until there’s that diagnosis of high blood pressure or something else, most people don’t have an annual physical check-up. What happens if you get sick or you don’t feel well, and then you go to the doctor? If you haven’t been to the doctor in years, you don’t know how this works. Except that your doctor asks you a few questions. Looks at you, makes a diagnosis, and sends you on your way, maybe with a prescription or a blood test recommendation. In that 15 minutes allowed by your health insurance company, you’re in, and you’re out. Gap number one is you probably don’t understand the short and long-term effects of the health condition you are diagnosed with.
33:35 Pamela D. Wilson: Like we talked about in the first segment of the show, heart disease, diabetes, stomach problems, and smoking all have significant long-term consequences to your health and the way you feel every day. Most consumers have no idea about the train wreck that happens or can happen in the future. So you don’t do anything about it.
33:54 Pamela D. Wilson: Tip number two for effective patient education strategies is preventing or minimizing complications. Who owns this information? Your doctor, the nurse in your doctor’s office, and other medical professionals. They went to school for years to learn the steps to take to prevent or minimize health complications. These include regular doctor appointments, taking prescription medications, exercise, good nutrition, and understanding the health condition. Gap number two is that health care professionals in those settings don’t have the time to talk to you about health complications and consequences. They give you a pamphlet, or they direct you to a website. You’re thinking, “Well, if my medical condition were that important, certainly, the doctor would spend more time with me.” Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, not in most settings, there’s no time.
34:43 Pamela D. Wilson: There are health systems around the country that are highly focused on effective patient education strategies. These are amazing groups, but not everybody is like that. This is where it’s up to you—where learning effective patient education strategies falls on consumers, patients, and caregivers. If you want to feel good, to be healthy, that responsibility, it’s yours. Upon any diagnosis like high blood pressure, it’s up to you to seek patient education strategies and learn what can happen if you don’t take your medications or follow the doctor’s advice. Your body is yours. You have control over it. Your health is yours—you have control over your health. Recognize that you have the power to take care of yourself and own it. Take action.
35:32 Pamela D. Wilson: Tip number three for effective patient education strategies is to understand the importance of taking action. A healthcare provider can give you information, but if you don’t believe the information is vital if the information doesn’t make sense because it wasn’t explained in a matter to make you think that it’s important, you’re not going to believe it’s important to do anything about it. Nobody wants bad news. You see the doctor, and he goes like this, “Mary, John, you have high blood pressure, it’s 180/120. That’s high. I want you to take a prescription to lower your blood pressure.” You’re thinking, “I don’t want to take medicine. I don’t want to take a prescription.” So you take that piece of paper with you, leave the office, it ends up in the trash can.
36:17 Pamela D. Wilson: But what if the conversation went like this, “Mary, John, your blood pressure, it’s really high, 180/120. Your choices are to take blood pressure medication to bring your blood pressure down to an average level so that you feel good. If you choose not to take a medication or to take other actions like reducing the salt in your diet, losing weight or exercising to reduce your blood pressure, there’s a high probability you’ll have a severe stroke. A blood clot in your arteries leading to your brain. If you have a stroke, you can become paralyzed on one side of your body and be seriously disabled. Stroke can cause difficulty with movement, speaking, memory, daily activities. Stroke can progress to a diagnosis of dementia. Stroke can be minor or major. It could result in your being unable to work and needing help from your family to care for you. You might be unable to financially support your family or take care of your children. What do you think you’d like to do? Are you interested in taking a prescription and learning more about what you can do to minimize the risk of a stroke?” How would you respond?
37:26 Pamela D. Wilson: That type of conversation is an example of effective patient education strategies that don’t always happen when you’re diagnosed because there isn’t enough time. The doctors and the nurses don’t have enough time. Let’s flip that responsibility to you. It’s up to you to ask these questions. What happens to my health and my life if I don’t take medications and don’t make any changes? Ask about the consequences. Learn about the importance of following your doctor’s recommendations and the risks of not following through with medical care. Remember, it’s your body, it’s your life, and you are the one in control. This is what so many consumers don’t understand, just like in our conversation with Eric Carlson about nursing homes. You can push back, you can ask questions, that is your right, and it’s your responsibility as that patient, as that caregiver. Never let the healthcare system or a doctor or a nurse intimidate you or make you feel small. That is not the way that healthcare is supposed to work.
38:35 Pamela D. Wilson: As Eric said, they have a commitment to you to take care of you, to take care of your health, to give you the information that you need. You have that commitment to ask questions and to follow through with their recommendations. More tips and helpful information are on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com in my caregiving library and my caregiving blog. This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation, live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
41:27 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert, author, and speaker consultant on The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Information for corporations and groups about elder care and caregiving programs that include on-site education, online webinars, video conferencing presentations, and creating a workplace where people matter are on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com. We’re back with tip number four, effective patient education strategies to get the care you want and need from the healthcare system. This one is identifying learning gaps. This is an area where healthcare systems pressed for time, do their best. But they can’t always meet the needs of customers, patients, and caregivers. Learning gaps exist in many areas, like language barriers. Doctors and health care providers use big words and terminology, words that I call medical speak.
42:22 Pamela D. Wilson: People whose first language is English have no idea what doctors are talking about, let alone if your first language is Spanish, Russian, Polish, Chinese, French, Korean, German, Italian, or another language. If you don’t speak up because of pride or embarrassment, you could be missing very important information. That’s when having a second person attend medical appointments is helpful to make sure that you receive the care that you need. Other learning gaps could be reading or using a computer to access information. Not everybody is good at computer skills. Some people don’t even have great internet access, especially if you live outside of a large city. If you have a learning gap, find a workaround. Ask for help rather than letting your health suffer. Effective patient education strategies are most successful when you speak up so that your needs are met.
43:10 Pamela D. Wilson: Tip number five for effective patient education strategies is the question of what does the patient know. This question goes both ways from the health care system to the patient and from the patient to the healthcare system. You may think you know everything you need to know about high blood pressure, but do you really? Who has that medical degree, you or the doctor? When consumers, patients, and caregivers look at healthcare from a curious and questioning mind, you get better care because you say, “Tell me what I should know that’s important for me today and in the future about high blood pressure or another condition.” Ask this question and keep asking questions. This leads to tip number six for effective patient education strategies. Being present and attentive during medical conversations. Taking notes and stopping the doctor to ask about anything you don’t understand.
44:00 Pamela D. Wilson: Being present requires that you’re interested and that you want to learn. Becoming part of effective patient education strategies means that you’re open-minded instead of being closed-minded. Being present and interested is more difficult for all adults—especially because of the aging process. With age, if we’re not proactive, our mental processes slow down, and it takes more effort to be interested, pay attention, evaluate information, and change. If you’re an adult child caregiver, you may see this with your aging parents. You offer suggestions or ask mom and dad to make a decision, and there’s a tremendous amount of hesitation. Do you know what this means? That means you don’t have an effective elderly parent education strategy, and much like an effective patient education strategy, having conversations with aging parents benefits from creating an effective parent education strategy. You can use all of the tips we’re talking about today for communicating with the healthcare system to speak to elderly parents, spouses, grandparents, and loved ones. Effective communication is a skill that we learn through trial and error and, most of all, practice. Practice in being attentive to the way that we communicate with others.
45:17 Pamela D. Wilson: Tip number seven for effective patient education strategies is the idea of confirming understanding. After you have a conversation, it’s the idea of saying, “Let me tell you what I heard you say so that I can make sure that I’m understanding or following along with you correctly.” Then give your understanding. Just the opposite, ask the person to whom you’re speaking to provide you with their understanding of the conversation. By learning to confirm understanding—this back and forth, it’s also called teaching back—you’ll avoid gaps and glitches in conversations that result in unfulfilled expectations, confusion, frustration, anger, and upset when things don’t turn out like you think. Admittedly, nothing is perfect. A little extra attention to important things like health make life go a little smoother.
46:10 Pamela D. Wilson: We’ve come a long way in talking about effective patient education strategies. We’re in the home stretch with number eight, changing signs and symptoms. This one is super important, especially if you are a caregiver for an aging parent or spouse who has many health issues or health complications. A term used in the healthcare system and in care management is change in condition. A change in condition is something that happens out of the blue. Out of the ordinary. Like an early warning signal that something serious might happen. For example, when I managed care for the elderly, I had a client who had numerous health diagnosis. Achange in condition for this client was things like mental confusion, talking bu t not making any sense. Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, fever or low blood pressure.
47:01 Pamela D. Wilson: If one or all of these things happened, it meant a call to the doctor or if really urgent, a trip to the emergency room. Caregivers, you bear the responsibility of knowing your spouse, parent, or the person for whom you care better than anyone else. You’re the expert. You should be able to tell by a quick look over that something has changed, or something isn’t right so that you can take action to prevent a health catastrophe. In managing care for the elderly, fast, and quick action to prevent issues—it can be life-saving. For corporations, groups, and caregivers interested in more information about managing care and prevention, check out my online caregiver course. It’s called Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond.
47:51 Pamela D. Wilson: I create unique programs for corporations and groups specific to the interest of caregivers, I talk at conferences, I come out and share information with caregivers and organizations on site. You are welcome to share all of the information on my website at www.PamelaDWilson.com with your corporations and your groups, have me come out. I would love to meet you and love to speak with all of you. There’s a contact button on my website where you could also find my caregiver survey. It’s a place where caregivers can share issues and information that are very important to all of you. I use these to create this weekly radio show every week. So if you have ideas for the radio show, you can go to that website, click on that Contact Me button, fill out the caregiver survey and let me know your thoughts, let me know your questions. This is The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network, Channel 100, and TuneIn Radio. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving author, expert, and speaker. Stay with me. We’ll be right back.
51:10 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert, I’m your host on The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers, and aging adults live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Coming up next week, Caring For My Elderly Parents Stress Me Out. Tips to manage caregiver stress, plus Dr. Eric Larson shares research about preventing memory loss from the smart study. He is an investigator and a researcher with Kaiser Permanente. Let’s continue to tip number nine for effective patient education strategies. Before the break, we were talking about noticing changes in conditions, signs, and symptoms.
51:48 Pamela D. Wilson: Tip number nine is making use of information available to you and using caregiver resources with the idea of not waiting too long because caregiving can be exhausting. Caregivers burn out and wait too long to seek help. If you’re here listening, congratulations on being proactive in taking steps to learn effective patient education strategies and how to get what you want from the healthcare system. Tip number 10 is to look in the rearview mirror and be more proactive. Have you ever said to yourself, “If only if only I knew back then what I know today?” I think we’ve all said this. If I knew back when my parents were living what I know today, I could have been a much more effective caregiver and possibly avoided many of the unfortunate incidents that happened. But I didn’t know any better at the time. I had no idea what I didn’t know or the questions I should have been asking.
52:36 Pamela D. Wilson: This is the value of experience. Look in the rearview mirror. Value the knowledge you’ve gained. Pat yourself on the back for everything that you’ve done and will continue to do for elderly parents or a spouse. Seek education. Desire to learn more. I know you might be thinking, I don’t have time. In the first segment of the program, we talked about becoming more deliberate about where and how you spend your time. The idea of being deliberate and planning. It applies to all of us, every single person in the world. When we focus our attention on a goal, whether that goal is better health, getting a new job, learning to take care of an aging parent, when we concentrate and follow-through, we fast track the progress that we make. This action requires interest, attention, and being open-minded to learn things that others know that we don’t know.
53:28 Pamela D. Wilson: The minute we think we know everything we lose. I’ve worked professionally in the field of health, aging, and caregiving for more than 20 years, and I continue to learn every day. I love learning. I enjoy talking to other experts like Eric Carlson, who joined the program today to talk about nursing home abuse and how you can advocate, and all the other amazing guests that I interview on this program every week. Here’s how I look at learning. If I attend a seminar or a class or if I learn one new thing that I can use in my daily life—that time, it was well worth it. That time was a commitment that I made to myself. Embracing life-long learning is vital for all of us caregivers and patients to continue to grow and evolve in life.
54:17 Pamela D. Wilson: Everybody has the right to good health and to receive health information in an easy-to-understand matter. As Eric Carlson talked, everybody has the right to receive good health from the health care system. You have to speak up to make that happen. It doesn’t happen without you doing something. Embrace the idea of seeking out and participating in effective patient education strategies so that you can get what you want, and you need from the healthcare system for yourself and for your aging parents. Caregivers ask for the help, the education that you need from your elderly parents, your families, and the workplace.
54:57 Pamela D. Wilson: If you have ideas for future programs, visit my website, www.PamelaDWilson.com, click on that Contact Me button, complete that survey, send me your thoughts. Invite your friends and your family to join us here every Wednesday night on The Caring Generation radio show. The show is on all of the major podcast apps. So Apple, Google, Spreaker, Spotify, all of them. An easy way to get your parents to listen? Take their cellphone, find that podcast app. Look for The Caring Generation radio show and download, follow, and like the show. Every week when a new show is added, it’ll show up on their cellphone, and it will make these caregiving conversations so much easier. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert advocate, author, and speaker. God bless all of you, caregivers. Thank you for everything that you do. Sleep well tonight, have a fabulous day, tomorrow and a great week until we are back here together again.
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