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An Interview with Susan Morse (Page 3 of 4)

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An Interview with Susan Morse


Susan Morse: I remember the first one I learned was when I was talking to the geriatric psychologist very early on. I found this wonderful lady who would come to your home, and health insurance would pay for it. She would talk to my mother and me and she was like a mediator who gathers together what everybody’s needs are; she helped everybody understand each other’s limits, boundaries and desires, and helped us figure out how to work together. It was incredibly helpful to us and she was the one who told me that the apartment building my mother lived in at the time was a NORC. It was a “naturally occurring retirement community” – and it was true. It really did attract a lot of senior citizens, even though it wasn’t exclusively for senior citizens. There were families living there as well, and young singles, but it was an ideal place for people to age in place. They had a doorman and an elevator and the shops were right nearby; they could walk to the shops or, if somebody was going to pick something up for them, it was easy. I thought NORC was a funny name and I kind of filed that away.

Susan MorseThen I started hearing other things like SNF.  I asked, “What is a SNF?”  And they answered, “Skilled nursing facility.”  Or somebody would call me up and say, “Hello, I’m the RNAC.”  I’d ask, “What is an RNAC?”  They’d say, “Registered nurse assessment coordinator.” I started thinking this is funny; and you know, it is funny. 

I started writing them all down and eventually I got good at it. I think it happens organically. The more you get in there, the more you start using all the terms that everybody around you is using. You just have to ask the questions when somebody says something you don’t understand and then write it down.

Gary Barg: Absolutely.  The most valuable asset you can have is the ability to ask questions and not stop until you get appropriate answers.  It’s partnering with the healthcare system.  It’s much easier if you talk the language because they’ll stop and pay attention to you a lot sooner.

Susan Morse: That’s true, and I do feel like I had more respect from the professionals after I had been at it for a while. You just have to learn it by going through each episode one at a time; and these people are educating us, one step at a time.  We just have to get there on our own. We’re so exhausted – there’s just no time. What I’m hoping is that people who aren’t even there yet, who don’t have a parent in crisis yet, will read the book and maybe something will sink in that will help them when it hits, so it’s not so much of a long, dark tunnel.  Maybe there’s light inside the tunnel a little bit. 

Gary Barg: What would be your one most important piece of advice you’d like to share with your fellow family caregivers?  


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