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Parent's Health Care - How To Advocate

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Often, we go through life with at least one purpose in mind at all times. That purpose could be as simple as brushing your teeth in the moment or as challenging as dealing or coping with difficult decisions throughout the day that are bound to come up because of your career in life. Since I’ve been down in Florida taking care of my dad’s health care and helping my mom to cope with the huge changes in her life, I have noticed some very important purposes being focused on by everyone in the medical field. Most of these fine folks do it right and have a great deal of compassion and sympathy. Some are so busy being focused on the work that they are hard to approach and are unresponsive or uncommunicative to the patient or his family. I decided that I needed to be focused on every aspect of the medical field as an advocate for my dad, if only to make sure people are paying attention to his needs and they have his “best” interest at heart.

Here’s what I’ve noticed in the last two months advocating for my Dad’s (and Mom’s at times) health:

  • If you do not ask what is going on and what the results are while your parent is receiving care, most of the time it is not communicated. I received info from only one nurse and one team leader of a care unit without asking first. All the rest, the Doctors and other health-care providers, did not offer to inform us unless we asked. Even if the care giver’s body language is telling you not to bother him/her, ask anyway and be the squeaky wheel. After meeting the first one who was not offering information, I decided to let each person who was involved in my Dad’s care know that we love him and we want to know everything that is going on. It is a two-way street when communicating.
  • Make sure to ask the Nurse if the Doctor has read the file on your parent. My Dad went through multiple illnesses and side effects from some of the medications and he also had doses of medications that were not supposed to be administered, which caused some huge delays in his recovery.
  • Lots of folks in the medical industry are very quick to recommend more treatments and that can at times complicate a person’s level of care. Again, make sure the Doctor has read your parent’s medical history to make sure the recommendation does not make things worse. You may have to do some research – online is how I did it with the help of my siblings.
  • Request the medical records for your files because you may need them while advocating. My Dad was given two medications that caused a huge hematoma that took weeks to heal because the Doctor did not read that he had a device inserted that was solving the problem and those meds were specifically noted as dangerous for a person of my Dad’s age. We found out who the Doctor was that administered the incorrect meds and let the hospital know of the error so it doesn’t happen again.
  • Follow up is very important in this process. If you do not hear within a day of calling or requesting information, a friendly reminder that you need the information ASAP usually does the trick.
  • Look over all the statements of services that you receive from each medical area. We are human beings and we make mistakes. There seems to be lots of them in this field because there are so many people involved in each person’s care. If you feel the way I do about medical costs and why they are so high, you’ll want to make sure Medicare/Supplement doesn’t pay for more than what was done.

There are many things to consider when you want your parents to get the very best care (as I’ve learned throughout this process). If you’ve never experienced advocating and especially for health purposes, you may want to consider getting to know all the people who are involved in your parent’s care:  Doctors, nurses, assistant nurses, maintenance person, dieticians, counselors, administrators and social workers (who are very helpful in getting you the medical equipment for home health care). I’m a people person so it is easier for me to do this than it is for my brother, for instance. He’s more introverted and trusts everyone to do their jobs. He’s grateful for someone like me because he’s not comfortable doing that. Not everyone is cut out for this kind of responsibility and the right person is needed for this job, in my opinion.

Lastly, you may need a Power of Attorney, which is a simple legal document drawn up by the family lawyer that gives you permission to go after medical records, ask questions to doctors and nurses, sign documents, etc.

Hopefully, this article will help in some way. I’m still learning my way through it and may have more next month. I’ve noticed some dynamics in leadership and relationship building in the medical industry that may be an interesting article to write about.

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Lorraine Twombly
Priority Learning



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