Navigating the Challenges of Caregiving: Member Spotlight

Thursday, Jan 3 2019

Americans are getting older. By 2030, older adults are projected to outnumber children for the first time in US history, according to a 2018 US Census report. That means that more of us will find ourselves juggling work-family balance and wondering how best to make sure the people we love get the care they need --- without sacrificing our own health.

Thanks to Judith Sands, a Hadassah life member, help is here in the form of a practical how-to guide to navigating the challenges of caregiving, particularly for individuals interested in learning more about the ins and outs of home hospice care.

Her book, Home Hospice Navigation: The Caregiver's Guide, is a comprehensive, tip-filled resource, says Sands. "It takes the guesswork out of caregiving and is intended for caregivers dealing with the home hospice journey. It also benefits those whose loved one is declining with a chronic illness."  Sands, a mother of one who grew up in Buffalo, NY, and Rehovot, Israel, lived in Coral Springs, FL, for many years, before moving to Raleigh, NC, with her husband, Lou Sands, who she describes as being "supportive" and very involved with her mother's caregiving.

Hadassah is "deeply committed to the health and economic equity of American women," says a Hadassah policy statement, that "reaffirms and expands… support for women as caregivers—for their own families and for others." It says, in part: "Women are often the primary caregivers for their families, sometimes juggling the responsibilities of caring for both children and aging parents. Approximately 40 million Americans, three-fifths of whom are women, provide unpaid care for an adult relative or friend—exacting a professional, financial, emotional, and physical toll on caregivers and their families."

For Sands' part, she hopes her new book will help more families during what can be a difficult and confusing time. It provides caregivers with clear and concise caregiving information to navigate the healthcare maze.

Earlier this year, she was featured on WRAL TV and interviewed by the North Carolina Medical Society for a podcast. Here she talks to Hadassah about herself, her work and why she's proud to be a Hadassah member.


What is it about Hadassah that resonates with you?

Part of Hadassah's vision is to provide healing. Often the first reaction is to focus on the healing of the care recipient or patient, and the caregiver does not get the needed healing, support, care, and attention to withstand the caregiving journey. For some, the journey may only be weeks, yet for others the journey may be years. The caregiving needs increase as the care recipient declines. Caregivers need a different type of "healing" to endure the caregiving journey. 

In keeping with Hadassah's mission to provide education and advocacy, it is my strong belief that caregivers need the knowledge and guidance to navigate the healthcare system as a loved one declines, and contemplate the use of the hospice/home hospice benefit package as a mechanism to help the loved one make the most of the time available, and as comfortably as possible, during their last phase of life. Caregiving cannot be done in isolation; caregivers need to be connected to the professionals and resources for their guidance and support and learn how to engage others to assist and support them on the caregiving journey.

How did you get involved with Hadassah? How are you involved today? 

Although my mother and mother-in-law were long-time Hadassah members, I did not engage with Hadassah until I moved to Raleigh, NC, nearly nine years ago. I wanted to become part of the community and meet women who shared similar values... Since then, I have served on the Board. Currently, I am working with a group of committed nurses to establish a local Nurses' Council chapter. Many of my friends are Hadassah members, and it is wonderful to engage with a diverse yet very committed group of individuals.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Professionally, I'm Judith Sands, RN, MSL, BSN, CPHRM, CPHQ, CCM, LHRM, ARM. I have over 30 years of experience as a healthcare professional and am recognized as an authority in the areas of care coordination, quality, risk management, and patient safety. I am a registered nurse, holding state and national certifications in case, quality, and risk management. My bachelor of science degree in nursing is from the University of Florida, and I have a master of science in leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

Over the years I have spoken at various local and national conferences. My current focus is on ensuring patient safety, care coordination, and bringing dignity to end-of-life care.

As a nurse, what do you find most inspiring about Hadassah's efforts?

Just as caregiving cannot be done in isolation, nursing is often the hub of patient care and is the discipline that is often most responsible for identification of barriers and providing caregiving education in a way that is meaningful to the care recipient and caregiver. The nursing profession has evolved over time with many new specialties. Hadassah's accomplished nurses serve in all areas, from cutting-edge research to sharing best practices. Advocacy is a key component of what Hadassah does. Currently, my focus is drawing attention to the areas of end-of-life care and advocating for both the care recipient and the caregiver. End-of-life care is often a conversation stopper, I want to change that perspective, and make end-of-life discussions a key part of the care management conversation.


Read Hadassah's policy statement on caregiving.

Learn more about the Power of Women Who Heal.

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