Healthcare Issues Faced By Caregivers – The Caring Generation®
The Caring Generation® – Episode 98 August 11, 2021. On this caregiving program, expert Pamela D Wilson talks about Healthcare Issues Faced by Caregivers. Learn issues that family caregivers confront when working with the healthcare system and how to become an advocate. This is the first in a series of mini-podcasts responding to questions that caregivers ask Pamela on her social media channels and caregiver survey on her website.
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Healthcare Issues Faced By Caregivers
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.
Caregivers: How to Be Your Own Best Friend
Watch More Videos About Caregiving and Aging on Pamela’s YouTube Channel
0:00:38:34 This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, eldercare consultant, and author. This week’s episode is a mini-pod or a mini-podcast episode. Thirty 30 minutes or less that I am now doing every other week to talk about issues that you share with me on social media, my online caregiver groups, or the caregiver survey on my website pameladwilson.com. Today we are talking about challenges facing family caregivers.
If you are a caregiver, you already know many of these: caregiving responsibilities, dealing with family members, emotional and mental health worries, the financial strain of giving up a job or paying for the care of an elderly parent, finding trustworthy service providers for home care, respite care, and the topis of this show health care. The healthcare issues faced by caregivers.
Reasons Why Caregivers Struggle With the Healthcare System
As many of you know, there are many reasons why caregivers and aging adults struggle with the healthcare system, doctors, receiving care, and getting medical procedures approved. Healthcare issues for caregivers are an ongoing struggle. The healthcare system has become focused on the idea of healthcare consumerism. This is a medical speak term—to place personal choice and responsibility on consumers or patients to pay for and manage their health.
On the surface, when you hear the words healthcare consumerism this may seem practical and logical. As a consumer, you make daily choices about purchasing goods and services. However, if you’ve ever looked at choosing between different health insurance plans while caring for a loved one, you know that making choices about healthcare insurance, doctors or services is more complicated than choosing your laundry detergent brand or buying a pair of sneakers.
Healthcare Costs Are Confusing and Lack Transparency
Honestly, which would you rather do, shop, or go to the doctor? I think I know the answer to that. Healthcare issues exist for caregivers and aging adults because healthcare services are not a competitive market like automobiles, televisions, or computers where consumers vote for the products they like by the amount they purchase or the cost. Let’s look at a COVID example.
During COVID, when everyone was stuck at home and thinking about what to do, there was an extreme shortage of exercise equipment, dumbbells, bicycles, etc. Because everyone wanted exercise equipment, the cost of the items went through the roof and there was a shortage. In a previous podcast, Why Does Caring for Elderly Parents Make Me Mean, I talked about the cost of hip replacement surgery at $75,000.
Healthcare Is Expensive But Does Not Always Deliver Good Care
How many of you are rushing to break a hip so that you can spend $75,000? Here’s the difference with healthcare and why healthcare issues exist for caregivers. The government, private insurers, hospitals, and other public and private entities—each with their own policies, interests, and regulations—control the healthcare market. The healthcare system is a system that consumers use to some degree, but individual usage does not change the price of a service.
Now you might be surprised to learn that the cost of, let’s say, an x-ray or an MRI greatly varies by where an aging parent receives the service. I’m in Colorado. The cost of imaging services in Denver is much lower than in Summit County and the cities of Dillon, Silverthorne, or Breckenridge. Paying for care is just one healthcare issue faced by caregivers.
Knowing about and being informed about healthcare is another issue. If you listen to the news, you hear the words “disadvantaged” all of the time. Medically disadvantaged, medically at-risk populations. These groups are people who do not regularly access medical care, trust doctors, trust anyone outside of their network of people or people where they live. For example, consumers who live in rural communities may not trust people who live in the big city.
Don’t Let Fear Control Your Life
And then we have the government. How many of you trust the government? Do you trust the CDC and the communication about COVID? Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask. It’s no wonder caregivers are afraid to listen to news about the virus. Add to this border issues inflation, rising gas prices, and a list of other consumer concerns. Is all of this fear-mongering a desire for control?
How many of you are worn down spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially? Healthcare issues faced by caregivers exist, in my opinion, because of a lack of education about health prevention. On the other hand, how many commercials do you see on television for the latest and most expensive drugs when the companies offering these products don’t tell you that less expensive versions that are generic and lower-cost medicines exist? They’re out there!
The idea of healthcare consumerism seeks to place responsibility on caregivers, aging adults, family, and friends—many who cannot make informed medical care decisions without talking to someone they trust who makes healthcare make sense to offer experience, wisdom, perspective, and judgment. I understand that it’s scary making decisions for a care recipient when you don’t have enough information or know what questions to ask.
Conflict of Interest in the Healthcare System
The problem is that healthcare issues multiply as the health of aging parents and the spouses you care for increases. Relying on healthcare providers, politicians, or the government to be honest and disclose conflicts of interest when trying to make any decisions is why consumers are disillusioned and lack trust in healthcare and other government systems.
What is a conflict of interest? For example, it could be that lab or x-ray clinic that your doctor recommended. Did you ask the doctor if their medical practice or healthcare system OWN the clinic? If so, a conflict of interest exists because the doctor recommends another service or company that financially benefits them. It’s a question you should ask of anyone who gives you a recommendation for a product or service so that you can be more informed about the choices you make.
Self-Interested Individuals May Not Be Interested In Consumer Well-Being
Let’s go one step further, the politicians that you vote for, do you know what personal or financial conflicts of interest they have? How many of them own stock in medical mask companies or have stock in the pharmaceutical companies offering the recommended vaccines? Companies offering healthcare information like to assume that high levels of health literacy exist across all populations, races, and cultures. This is not always the case.
It takes a health issue arises for most people to learn about health, healthcare, health insurance, medications, nursing homes, assisted living communities, home care agencies, palliative care, hospice, and more. The government talks about disadvantaged populations every day.
YET, what is being done to solve the problem at the root of the cause? Nothing. Did you know that the government, state governments can institute health education beginning in grade school and continuing through high school that would increase health literacy rates and result in consumers having a better understanding of healthcare?
Does Being Healthier Place More Control in the Hands of Consumers?
Now I know that none of us like the word mandate or require— anymore because of the COVID mandates. But if education is one solution to our healthcare problems, how can learning how to be healthy be a bad thing? Insurance companies who make money off of sick people might see healthcare education as bad for business. Pharmaceutical companies may not like it either. Can being healthier place more control and choice in the hands of consumers?
What do you think? I don’t have all the answers. My goal is to encourage you to start asking questions, become more informed, and make good decisions. It’s important to recognize that many of the issues we face in the healthcare system are complicated. Everything may not be what it appears to be. Caregivers face many common challenges and take a tremendous amount of energy, lots of time, effort, compassion, patience, and everlasting love. You are all amazing.
Let’s take a quick break and look at three primary reasons healthcare is confusing for caregivers and aging adults. The Caring Generation is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide can listen any time of day. Information about online caregiver education and my 30-hour webinar video course, Taking Care of Elderly Parents: Stay at Home and Beyond, is on my website pameladwilson.com. This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiver expert, consultant, and author on the Caring Generation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.
0:11:11:52 This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, caregiving speaker, and eldercare consultant with you on The Caring Generation. Please share this week’s podcast all of our shows with your family, friends, colleagues, and the human resources department at work. You can find the Caring Generation on all of your favorite podcast and music apps, including Apple, Google, I Heart Radio, JioSaavn, Spreaker, Amazon Music, Breaker, Deezer, Listen Notes, Pandora, Player FM, Pocket Casts, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Stitcher, Spotify, Tune In, and Vurbl.
Three Primary Healthcare Issues Caregivers Experience
Let’s talk about three healthcare issues faced by caregivers. As an unpaid caregiver—I know you do this out of love, and that means caregiving can place a financial strain on your personal life—issue number one is – when a lack of understanding of future consequences exists about any subject, the likelihood that caregivers, aging adults or consumers will seek information and act is very low.
You have no idea of the importance of acting today instead of months or years from now. Here is an example. How many of you are rushing out to buy life insurance or consistently saving for retirement and costs of care? I know. Death and retirement seem to be way in the future. Yet, both will be here before you know it. We don’t think about aging issues today if we’re 30, 40, or even 50. It’s hard enough to keep up with daily life, especially if you are a caregiver.
How do I know this? Because many caregivers I talk to contact me right after a disaster happened or right before a parent is released from the hospital or a nursing home or some other critical decision has to be made. In life, there are many competing priorities. The ones that seem most time-sensitive get all of the attention. As a result, health and well-being are not a priority until you become the caregiver for an aging parent or need care yourself.
Number two of healthcare issues for caregivers. We all gain through our experiences, yes? Healthcare is no different. Healthcare experience and knowledge is gained by having ongoing contact with a doctor. To get good or better care, making the time to establish care with a primary care physician is in your best interest. If you don’t seek or establish regular medical care, you may be part of the disadvantaged populations that the government talks about every day.
Raise yourself up, improve your health, take more control over your life. We’ll talk more about becoming an advocate for health in a minute. Number three for healthcare issues for caregivers is the belief mostly by aging parents that doctors should not be questioned. Many consumers view doctor-patient relationships as one-directional.
Caregivers Can Advocate for Better Medical Care for Loved Ones
The doctor tells you what to do. Many of you don’t ask questions. Research confirms that while the caregivers know more about the person who receives care, doctors and other healthcare professionals rarely take the time to speak directly to caregivers. Information that caregivers—you—possess about the daily habits and needs of loved ones can contribute to better medical care if you share the information with medical professionals and take it upon yourself to learn about health diagnosis, medications, and daily consequences.
Being involved in the care of a parent, grandparent, or spouse is an educational opportunity for family caregivers to learn advocacy skills and develop partnerships with healthcare providers rather than feeling ignored or left out.
Don’t Wait—Pay Attention to Your Health Today
Caregivers make your voices heard. Don’t let the healthcare system exclude you. Speak up for your loved ones and yourself. Let’s talk about disadvantaged healthcare populations and low healthcare literacy. The issues caregivers and aging adults face pose far-reaching consequences for improvements in interactions with the healthcare system.
The average consumer has low levels of health literacy for the three reasons we talked about – you don’t think about health until you’re sick. Many people don’t establish regular medical care with a doctor. Consumers should not question doctors or the healthcare system. The time to pay attention to your health is when you are healthy so you can remain healthy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Becoming an Unexpected Caregiver
Caregivers face challenges because they are catapulted into the role of caregiver overnight. You lack knowledge and experience. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Everyone can improve knowledge and your skills. Remember that online course I talked about on my website pameladwilson.com. Check it out. Problems happen because the majority of caregivers and the persons you care about are uninformed about available services.
Or, if you are aware of the services, none of it makes sense. I know. Most families fail to discuss plans and expectations for aging parents or spouses. These conversations are important. If you’re not sure how to talk to your children about caregiving issues or if you’ve tried to talk to your aging parents. Let me start the conversation for you.
Become an Advocate for the Vulnerable
Share this podcast and all of my podcasts. Show your parents, spouse, or family members videos from my YouTube Channel. I will help you start that conversation. Aging adults with health concerns who are low income are more vulnerable. Many elderly cannot seek, interpret or evaluate information without family or other support.
If you are an older adult listening, call me. Make an appointment. I help many elderly all over the United States who don’t have anyone. You are not alone. Caregivers—your aging parents need you to step up. Elders with memory loss who live alone or are isolated are at significant risk of being unable to advocate for their needs.
Navigating the Healthcare System Is Intimidating
As we’ve talked about, health insurance and the healthcare system are difficult to navigate. Most consumers lack an understanding of co-pays, deductibles, in-network providers, and online access. Company-sponsored health insurance shields consumers from healthcare premiums and costs. The result is that consumers aren’t aware of the costs of being sick or even the cost of aging until you are in a position of needing care or caring for an aging parent.
Then face sticker shock and panic about not being able to afford care. Because of a lack of knowledge or being indecisive, most people notice health issues and do nothing or postpone medical care. Then the health problems that could have been caught early become really big. That annual checkup that you avoid or miss can identify health issues early before they become big problems.
Self-Care Increases Confidence
Don’t wait. Find a doctor and establish annual appointments. Use your health insurance for preventative and ongoing care to be and stay healthy. Help your aging parents do the same. Take control of your health and well-being instead of giving more control to healthcare systems. The ability to be a caregiver and to manage health is a learned skill. It’s not something you pick up overnight. Learning about caregiving, aging, and health is like anything else—it takes effort. You have to be interested and want to learn.
Up next tips for raising yourself up. Don’t go away. After this show, visit my website pameladwilson.com, check out my Caring for Aging Parents Blog, my book The Caregiving Trap, my caregiver library, my online courses in video format where I talk to you like I am now, but you can see me on video, and all of The Caring Generation podcasts and show transcripts. This is Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, eldercare consultant, and speaker stay with me. I’ll be right back.
Follow Pamela on Social Media to Share Your Thoughts and Ask Questions
0:20:39:63 This is Pamela D Wilson. You’re with me on the Caring Generation mini-podcast. Next week come back for the regular version, almost an hour, featuring a guest interview. If you’d like to learn more about the experiences and interests of other caregivers, let me hear from you. Follow me on social media. My posts respond to caregivers who complete the caregiver survey on my website and communicate with me on social media.
On Facebook, follow me at @pameladwilsoncaregivingexpert where you can join my online caregiver support group, The Caregiving Trap. Follow me on Twitter @caregivingspeak, Instagram at @wilsonpamelad, and Linked In pameladwilsoncaregiverexpert.
Tips to Take Control of Your Health
Let’s talk about the idea of raising yourself up, improving your health, and taking more control over your life. The term disadvantaged population is used frequently. Being disadvantaged is associated with lower education, living in a poor or crime-ridden neighborhood, experiencing poverty, having a disability, or being from a particular ethnic group. I’m not here to debate that disadvantaged populations exist—they do.
On the other hand, how many of you came from a poor background and you’re doing okay today, or you know someone who grew up in poverty and today owns a home and has a family proof that it is possible to come from a disadvantaged population and to raise yourself up. A lot of your potential depends on your parents, how and what they teach. A lot of it also depends on yourself. I don’t have all of the answers – I do have a lot of questions.
What I do know from my personal experience is that education, ongoing lifelong education—not stopping at high school or college, keep going, keep learning— being interested and ask questions. Education can improve your life. Another way to raise yourself up is to spend time with people ahead of you in life, smarter than you. Focus on building consistent habits of improvement.
Move past your herd or the pack of people you spend time with if they’re not interested in raising up their lives. Rather than being intimidated by people who are more educated or have different experiences, instead of not liking them because they are different from you. Stop that—there’s too much of that going on today, and you have to wonder about the motivation of the people reinforcing these outdated ideas. Do they want to hold you down or raise you up? Think about that.
Become Inspired By Like-Minded Individuals
The Caring Generation is here to raise you up. Join groups. Further your education, take a class, learn from people that can serve as role models. Ask others how they have accomplished what they have done. Most people are willing to share. Find a mentor, someone you can talk to or meet with on an ongoing basis who agrees to support you in a particular way.
Be open-minded to learn new information. Think differently to open up a whole new world for you. This can take a little retraining of your brain and your thoughts but you can do it if you are willing. Sure, it can be scary. I know. I’ve been intimidated by people too. You also might feel embarrassed or judged by other people.
That inner talk is all on you. Start talking to yourself differently, encourage yourself, be positive, and be your own best friend. Create friendships with supportive people who will cheer you ahead, not hold you back. Take control of your health and your life today, my friends.
Thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation – the only program of its kind connecting caregivers and aging adults worldwide to talk about caregiving, well-being, health, and everything in between. Invite your family and friends to listen each week. This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. I look forward to being with you again soon. God bless you all. Sleep well tonight. Have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are here together again.
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