A Hot Mess

“A hot mess.”

That’s how a family caregiver described the health care system during a presentation I gave last Tuesday on the six caregiving stages at a caregiving event hosted by Southern Illinois University.

The following day (Wednesday), I gave a presentation on difficult family dynamics to a group of discharge planners at a hospital in one of our Chicago suburbs. It struck me that the term “hot mess” could be applied to our family systems. The department head of the discharge planners shared with me that they have a zero tolerance policy with families and will remove aggressive family members from the hospital. At the close of the presentation, I asked, “Are you encountering more difficult family members than you have in the past?” They all nodded in agreement.

The following day (Thursday), I facilitated a conversation with two family caregivers who shared their experiences trying to get the correct diagnosis and treatments for their carees. “Hot mess” could describe their experiences working with insurance companies that make us jump through hoops and health care teams who often ignore our expertise.

I think about family caregivers living in this hot mess of uncaring systems, aggressive family members and intolerable conditions. We’re at our breaking points but can’t break. If we break, so does our caree.

So we live the hot mess day in and day out.

What a mess.

(Image by 12019 from Pixabay.)


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