I am sorry you are having a rough time right now. I do have advice and resources to help you.

First, I want you to take a deep breath and another. Sometimes when situations like this happen, we set ourselves into the panic mode. If you sense that you are beginning to feel out of control, BREATHE deeply and slowly. Usually this calming breath helps us to think more clearly.

Now, let’s talk about resources you may have. The first line of help is right there at the hospital. Your spouse has nurses and doctors that can help direct where to go next and answer questions about your spouse’s medical condition. The hospital also has Social Workers/Care Managers and Discharge Planners whose job it is to help you with this situation, especially as the medical condition improves and changes. You can set up an appointment, or speak with them over the phone. They have material from facilities and other agencies/services, as well as advice and expertise from working in this field. Even if you don’t know what to ask, I suggest making an appointment to help with what may/will be happening in the coming weeks.

Another resource is family and friends. Sometimes, there is someone close to you that is knowledgeable in this situation, or has been through a similar situation in the recent past. I also recommend bringing a second person to appointments if that is available to you.

Outside of the hospital, there may be someone at your spouse’s doctor’s office or programs and agencies in our community that can be very helpful.

Senior Life Matters is one of those programs as well as Office For the Aging (OFA). Social Workers, Geriatric Care Managers, or Case Managers are usually titles that you should be watching for. This usually indicates a level of professional training or expertise in the area of managing illness and care.

In some situations these professionals can only talk about the facility they are associated with, like the admissions personnel at the Nursing Home.

In other situations, these professionals are unaffiliated with a specific facility and can educate you to the many alternatives available to you in our region. These programs and professionals all have different models of functioning. Sometimes there is a fee for this service (like Senior Life Matters), sometimes it is government funded (like OFA).

There is also the internet, which has all types of information. One of the things I often tell people if they are comfortable using the internet, is to type in what you are wondering about. (The disease, the level of care, the service you think is appropriate.) Be careful though, not everything on the web (internet) is true.

I often recommend reaching out to a number of different resources, to get the information you need.

The other thing I want to reinforce is that in most situations you have time to review alternatives and options. I talk with families of people who are in a hospital and they are being pressured to make a decision or “pick a place”. You can push back and ask for more information and other options available to you. The facility has a timeline they are working against as well. Work with them and ask them to work with you.

You may feel like you need to make every decision TODAY. You don’t. As your situation changes, your questions and answers will certainly change. There are very few, now or never decisions in our life. Try to step back and evaluate what has to be decided now and what is farther away, next week, next month, next year. By the time you get to those later decisions your situation may be very different.

I spend a lot of time talking with people who feel like they are ‘on the hot seat, and in trouble’. I find that often those individuals are not in the crisis they think they are. So please, take a breath. Hold the hand of someone to help get you through this situation. I know it feels like you are alone, but you are not. Others have done this before. More will come after you who have to get through it. Reach out and ask for help!