Jim Carman recently took his wife Paula to see a psychiatrist. Paula suffers from Alzheimer’s.
A care center administrator recommended that Paula have the psychiatric exam. At first Jim questioned the benefit of the exam, but went along with the recommendation. Paula was taken from the care home to Great Plains Health, where the two of them waited for nearly 45 minutes to see the psychiatrist.
Before the examination finally began, the psychiatrist invited Jim to stay in the room too. Then, the psychiatrist asked Paula if there was a history of mental illness in her family. Not surprisingly, Paula said she didn’t know. After that, the psychiatrist directed the questions to Jim.
Carman was totally unimpressed with the visit.
“These psychiatric exams are being done, supposedly, to help care facilities better manage patient behaviors,” he wrote in a letter to the North Platte newspapers.
Typically, patients require an adjustment in medications from time to time, but “if medication changes are indicated, it can be done by the person’s regular doctor, using their judgment,” Jim said.
“The doctor can be assisted by the nursing folks who have the best understanding of the patient’s day-to-day needs,” he added.
“Those CNAs know more about what’s going on than just about anyone, and they are doing most of the work,” he told the Bulletin. “They are all angels to me.”
Jim Carman sees nothing to be gained by a psychiatric exam, except more stress and expense. It concerns him greatly that some patients don’t have a primary caregiver to answer a psychiatrist’s questions.
“Some people don’t have advocates,” he said. “Whatever is suggested, they just do it.”
Here’s the point, he said:
“If you are a caregiver for a person who suffers dementia, you do not have to give permission for psychiatric examination for your loved one.”
“Maybe this will help,” he said. “Maybe it will give caregivers something to think about.”
Jim Carman is a North Platte city councilman and former Lincoln County sheriff.