Formulating a Family Care Plan
Mr. R., an 80-year-old retired pipe fitter, lives with his wife; he has had diabetes for 15 years. Although his diabetes has been moderately controlled with diet and daily insulin, some complications have occurred. He experiences arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease and peripheral neuropathy, and he recently spent 2 months in the hospital due to circulatory problems in his left leg. The progressive deterioration of circulation resulted in an amputation below the knee. Although fitting him with a prosthesis would be possible, he has refused this and is wheelchair bound. Mr. R. currently depends on someone else to help with transfers. He is cranky, irritable, and demanding to almost everyone. He recently has stopped following his diabetes regimen because he claims, “It just doesn’t matter anymore.”
Mr. R.’s wife, Doris, is a 74-year-old woman who has been a homemaker most of her life. She has always been the “watchdog” for Mr. R.’s health. Mostly through her changes in food preparation and her lifestyle adjustments, Mr. R.’s diabetes has been managed. She schedules his physician appointments, buys his medical supplies, and administers his insulin. He is now refusing to accept her help, and she is anxious and angry about his behavior. They frequently have arguments, after which Mrs. R. retreats to her room.
Mr. and Mrs. R. have three children and four grandchildren who live in the same city. The eldest daughter, Patricia, calls or stops by about once a week. The other children, Tom and Ellen, are busy with their families and see their parents mostly on holidays; they have very little communication with Patricia or their parents. When the children do come to visit, Doris tries to put on a happy expression and pretend that everything is going well to avoid worrying them. She is also embarrassed about Mr. R.’s behavior and does not want anyone from outside the family to see what is happening.
On her initial home visit to this family, the community health nurse notes that Mr. R. appears somewhat drowsy and unkempt. Mrs. R. looks anxious and tired, her skin color is slightly ashen, and she has circles under her eyes. When the nurse asks them what they hope to get out of the nursing visits, Mrs. R. says, “Actually, you don’t need to keep visiting. In a few weeks we’ll be back to normal and doing fine.”
Based on a thorough assessment of the family, the community health nurse may begin to develop a mutually acceptable plan of care with the family.