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The following is a podcast from a qualified senior care provider part on the answers for elders radio show. And Welcome back to answers for elders radio everyone. I am here with Alison fine from the center of chronic illness and Alison is back for another visit. You were here, visited US last month and Alison, I am interested in like your background and you talk a lot about, you know, what you do in helping people with chronic illness and you you’re a counselor, but you’re also a social worker and I think, I think would be really valuable for our listeners today to talk about. You know, why do you always hear this term social worker? What is social workers do and why do we need them? Yeah, that’s a really great question and I think a valid one, because a lot of people don’t know what social workers do know. So social workers, you know, we are trained masters level professionals typically who work in a variety of settings with people who struggle with different kinds of adversity. So, for example, you might find social workers and a homeless shelter, or you might find social workers in nonprofits or you might find social workers hospital settings like exactly. Yeah, yeah, and social workersing facilities, Rehab Centers, absolutely, yeah, hospice, hmmmmmm. Yeah, so you might fund them in schools, you know, you find them all over the place and social workers can play a variety of roles. So some of us, like myself, are trained clinically. So I’ve a licensed independent clinical social work license for the state Washington. That means that I’ve passed an exam, I’ve gathered all kinds of clinical hours and working hours to be able to practice as a therapist and counselor in the state of Washington. Some social workers choose not to go down that path. Instead, there may be more case managers, where they are working to help people with mostly meaning basic needs and connecting with community resources. So somebody might need help finding housing, or somebody might need help getting access to medical care or understanding their insurance plan and where they can go see a doctor, you know. So some, you know, more case management social workers are focused on that. Hm. You know, there are also social workers that do advocacy work, you know, on kind of a state level or even city level, organizational level, and they’re advocating for the different populations that they’re working with. That are facing adversity. So if I’m let’s just say, let’s take it from a clinical perspective, let’s say mom or dad or in the hospital, and sometimes they’ll say we’re going to meet with the social worker. What is that all about and what should they expect in that kind of a meeting? Yeah, absolutely. So the social worker in a hospital typically comes in to work with the family to assess the situation, you know, in kind of a biopsychosocial way. That’s kind of our our clinical jargon, but basically that means looking at what’s going on biologically with the patient, what’s going on psychologically with the patient, what’s going on socially, maybe in their home and Viron probably the dynamic between the family. That’s why they want to family there. Absolutely, and my guess, you know, if it’s a patient who’s in the hospital for for a stay, short stay, my guess is that the social worker is there to help the family figure out how is this patient going to be taken care of when they are discharged, and a lot of times hospital social workers are discharge planners. Right, and then do they look at like what’s called a care plan? Did they spend time then? Right, basically, evaluating at that time or what? Yeah, it you know, it kind of depends on where the patient is at in their hospital stay. You know, if it’s towards the end, obviously it’s more about discharging to either home or skill nursing and making sure they’re getting the supports they need. Sometimes, if the patients, you know, maybe the patient has really agitated or they’re having some you know, emotional the psychological problems are cognitive challenges, you know, memory issues, and so sometimes it’s more about how do we get this patient more comfortable and stable and how do we support the family while that’s happening? So, yeah, social workers can play all those roles and where all those hats and often type social workers I brought into solve problem. That’s amazing and and you know, I always I think there’s so many you know, unknown, you know, expectations for families number when they don’t realize. I remember when I first started taking care of my mom, this is back in the early days. She was put into a Rehab Center, which is very typical, and course we’re in a crisis mode right, and then all of a sudden it’s like I would just felt like I was a deer in the headlights for everything that had to happen and I didn’t realize at the time that I had the right as her daughter to call what’s called the Care Conference. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know what to what, how I could be more effective in helping her get better. And so I think a lot of things. I really believe that these care conferences can make a huge difference in the quality of life between the family members the senior that is you know, that is a situation of transition and the path moving forward, because really you, as an outsider, I can imagine, can really kind of quickly assess what’s going on. Absolutely and social workers are really trained to do that. You know, and I think for families, you know, if you’ve made it through most of your life without a lot of health challenges and then all of a sudden you’re expected to know and navigate the medical system and how to get the help you need, either as a patient or even as a family unit, that’s really difficult to do and you don’t always know the right questions to ask or what you’re even looking for, what kinds of resources or help are out there, even within like a skill nursing facility like you’re talking about right. So it’s yeah, it’s really great too. Yeah, communication is key, obviously, and being able just to bring everybody together and talk about the situation is always a good idea. But yeah, being able to pull those care conferences together, I think is one of the best things families can do if they have patience in the hospital or our loved ones in the hospital or and skill nursing. So we are talking to alison fine and she is the executive director for the center of chronic illness and you are also in private practice. Is that correct? All US and tell me a little bit about your private practice. Sure, so for the last nine years, almost nine years, maybe almost ten, I can’t even keep track anymore. But I’ve been working as a clinical social worker in private practice, providing counseling for people living with ongoing health challenges, is but also for individuals a struggle with things like depression or anxiety or, you know, work stress or relationships dress, just kind of helping people sort all of that out. I also do a lot of grief and lost counseling, which can be tied into the chronic illness piece. So absolutely, absolutely, and and you know, I’m sure, with families today. Why? I think one of the things that blows my mind, and we just kind of touched on it, but there’s so many things that are happening as a senior starts to lose their faculties, and I know with with somebody like you, it sometimes it helps so much to have somebody from the outside just come in and kind of give an objective point of view. You know, I think we get so lost in our own family dynamics and everybody knows how to push everybody’s buttons and nothing ever gets accomplished because you’re kind of in a stalemate. So families, what are you recommend for families that are in this situation where they’re kind of stalemated with a senior parent and they’re stubborn is all get out, and yet you have this deep concern because you’re not sure that mom or dad can live alone anymore. You know, you’re dealing with stress factor on that. I’m sure you seeing that quite a bit, aren’t you? Absolutely these kinds of situations come up all the time and I really common in families and I think a big piece of it is that as we age again, there’s so much loss and we’re not always ready to let go. You know, there and that’s really difficult for people. And we ever ready to let go right? Yeah, unless you’ve had good training and practice and letting go. It’s really difficult for most of us. And so, you know, I think obviously, you know, if an adult, you know child, comes in and says Hey, mom, dad, you know, I don’t think you should be living alone anymore, and the parents already thinking, Oh, this is terrible, I can’t do what I used to do. I wish I could do those and you know, I can’t drive anymore and need somebody to take me as a doctor. You know, there’s so many frustrations and losses again that once somebody comes in and tells you, Hey, you can’t live on your own anymore than there’s even more loss to be anticipated. And so I think that’s where the resistance comes from. Absolutely. So, you know, I think, like you asked, you know, what can families do? I think one of the best things you can do is find a social worker and try to help facilitate some of those conversations and, you know, again, like you said, remove the family dynamics from it, because it’s not really about that, you know, and that’s the hard part, I think, because we don’t see the force for the trees. Right. We’ve had, done, always done, the same thing, you know, definition of insanity, right, and we keep getting the same result. And so the idea is to bring somebody in that is much more you know, just has better perspective. I think would be the the the thing that I would hope that we would be able to do and and really look at an opportunity to see that how you can grow as a family together, and I think everybody can learn something from that result, wouldn’t you say? That’s true? Yeah, absolutely, and they might be difficult conversations. That are going to happen. But that’s a very hard sometimes and it’s hard to because I think a lot of times, and I’ve always said that a senior sometimes digs their heels in, not because of fear. It’s mostly because of fear, a fear of the unknown. But I think the other thing is they don’t want to disappoint, they don’t want to be a burden on their kids. Yeah, and understand that, you know, to be able to take that away from the child having to be the bad guy and, you know, son can be still be the sun right, daughter can still be the daughter, and somebody like you can go in and make a fast you know, facilitate change much better in some sort of a situation through your professional expertise. Is that correct? Absolutely, and I think you know, sometimes it’s good to have a big family meeting, but sometimes the social worker then can say, you know, let me talk to mom or dad one on one or absolutely your son or daughter one on one and you know, just if there’s especially if there’s tension or animosity, I think that can help really sort that out and then and you help everybody feel like they’ve been heard, which I think is so important. You know, that’s a big thing, isn’t it? Absolutely I think the social workers job is really to bring people back together and them be able to solve problems together, communicate and empower them to be able to do that on their own. You know, the social worker doesn’t take over. They just offer kind of a neutral resource in the moment to help people work through whatever challenge they’re fast say. So, Alison, how do we reach you? Yeah, good question. So you can reach me either through the Center for chronic illness at www dot cent for chronic illness DOTORG. You can also reach me through my counseling practice. My website there is www dot balance. MAINTAINSCOM and you can find my phone number and email there as well. Wonderful Alison. Thank you so much for being on the program today. Thank you so much for having me Susan Answers for elders radio show with Susan Newman. Hopes you found this podcast useful in your journey of navigating senior care. Check out more podcast like this to help you find qualified senior care experts and areas of financial, legal, health and wellness and living options. Learn about our radio show, receive our monthly newsletter, receive promotional discounts and meet our experts by clicking on the banner to join the Senior Advocate Network at answers for elders RADIOCOM. Now there is one place to find the answers for elders
Suzanne Newman, host of the Answers for Elders radio show and podcast, proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne embarked on a 6-year-journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. Answers for Elders provides education, help, and support to families, caregivers, and seniors across the country who are experiencing their own unique journey within the complicated world of Eldercare. Each week, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including health & wellness, life changes, living options, money, law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.