An urgent phone call comes in: “Your mother has had a stroke. She is being transported via ambulance to the hospital.”

You have not prepared for this situation. Realistically, no one can. You are caught totally off-guard. There is no real room for negotiation at this moment. The job specifications are urgent. Your mind is racing with questions: what to do next? will she be ok?

You never really asked for this job…it just got handed to you.

Panic may subside with the news that she is stable, resting comfortably in her hospital room. A brief moment of relief…

Soon we have a diagnosis. There are many next steps. After discharge from hospital, to where? A long-term nursing home? A short-term rehabilitation facility? Return home? Are there home care resources available? Now the job becomes searching for the best plan of care. And you quickly learn and realize from your on-the-job training and first hand experience that health care has become a game. Medical insurance and Medicare become big players — they may define the care that is dispensed; the location of this assistance; and dictate financial terms.

Is everything ok? Or are there unexpected complications? Now caregivers are expected to deal with the inevitable results…misdiagnosis; side effects of medications; difficulty getting answers; limited access to specialists; other care resources available; infections or other issues; managing access to care; and treatment locations.

The job of caregiving is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way. Decisions have to be made for care. The care that you need may not be available or be too expensive. Now your job is to get the resources and help that you need. Period.

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: ; or online at: