Message from the Founder

 

 

As a neurologist treating patients for more than fifteen years, I have long been aware of the many different challenges that patients, their families, and caregivers experience in coping with chronic disease.  Just today, I evaluated an 84 year-old gentleman with Parkinson’s disease who was struggling with increasing imbalance to the point that he was falling down at least once a week.  To complicate matters, this man was also the primary caregiver for his elderly wife, helping to manage her moderate severity dementia.  This couple was happy and long-settled in their home and absolutely refused to leave, but they also had no idea where to begin looking to find a caregiver to assist them with challenges of daily life.  I really wanted to help, but during September 2014 there were so few resources available for locating a caregiver in our community.

 

Later in the day, I saw another patient with a history of stroke, lower extremity amputation, and advanced dementia, so severe that he was almost completely unable to communicate.  His partner/caregiver was trying to maintain a full-time career, and she was growing increasingly exhausted attempting to care for his many needs.  At times this patient was completely incontinent, and his wife often spent sixty minutes getting him ready for appointments, only to encounter an accident that forced the couple to start the process all over again.  During recent months, he had grown increasingly uncooperative such that he would inappropriately physically resist allowing her to close the car door or to remove his soiled pants.  From the expression of despair on her face, the tone in her voice, and her body language, I could tell that this patient woman was at her wits-end.  I strongly encouraged her to hire a caregiver.  Her response was simple: she knew they needed a full-time caregiver, but they could not find one and could not afford the help.

For the past four or five years, I have been struggling with the knowledge that there are vast numbers of people struggling with health problems who really need more assistance from day to day.  As a physician, I have taken great pride in being able to help one person at a time, but there is an enormous need to link caregivers with clients.  Ultimately, I have realized that being aware of a serious healthcare crisis is not enough but that I really needed to act and to become a bigger part of the solution.

Many Americans have struggled with finding work during recent years, and at the same time, there has been an enormous need for in-home care providers throughout our country.  I have a friend who has worked as a volunteer for our local hospice agency, sometimes providing in-home care services and at other times, providing telephone support through the hospice agency’s call center.  My friend finds this volunteer opportunity tremendously rewarding, and she gains as much satisfaction from the experience as her clients.  Time and time again, she has told me how much she looks forward to spending time with her clients.

There are many different opportunities for each of us to help our community, whether serving as a volunteer or helping a family member as a caregiver.  Many families need the assistance of a caregiver but cannot afford the cost of care.  During September 2014, I decided to act.  I have created DrKnows with the goal of creating a resource for patients and families to network with caregivers, home healthcare agencies, and assisted living communities.  DrKnows is striving to help dedicated healthcare professionals find clients in need of their wonderful services.

Sincerely,

Scot Richardson, M.D.

 

 

#DrKnowsCares

 

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