Visualizing the Invisible Patient
With the number of patients with dementia swiftly rising, we in healthcare have a prime opportunity to care for not only those with dementia, but also their caregivers. This is an article I found in The New York Times that I recently shared with my mom, who cares for my grandfather who requires a lot of assistance and care.
After reading this, she said, “Yeah, you’re right, Ralph’s [my grandpa] doctor has not asked me how I am doing or if I am staying up to date on my own health maintenance.” She then told me that she was past due for her most recent annual physical and eye exam, because she could not find the time to go.
This article leaves us in healthcare with a responsibility to care for the “invisible patient,” the one who cares for the older adult with dementia or other debilitating diseases. We should be cognizant of asking who is bringing this older adult with dementia to his or her appointments? Where does the patient live? Who provides his or her care?
The article links to a recently published article entitled “Caregiver burden: A clinical review” by Adelman et al. (2014). The authors cover risk factors for those experiencing caregiver burden, as well as highlighting the importance of assessing for caregiver burden when we are taking care of older adults with dementia and other debilitating diseases.
These articles serve to challenge healthcare workers to now visualize the “invisible patient” in order to provide support to the caregiver, and ultimately, better care for the care recipient. How many “invisible patients” might we start to visualize if we begin to look?
Adelman, R. D. et al., (2014). Caregiver Burden: A clinical review. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 311(10), 1052-1060. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.304.
Gross, J. (2014). Seeing the “Invisible Patient.” The New York Times. Retrieved from http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/17/seeing-the-invisible-patie...