I don't know why but every winter season in Florida numerous seniors slip and fall, fracturing femurs and hips and/or often needing admission for a host of antibiotic resistant infections. Family members fly in to see their loved ones and wind up suffering in the process because many hospitals are under pressure to keep nursing staffs lean and communication suffers. A personal advocate such as an Elder Care Manager can be a valuable resource. It may even be a relative or friend - as long as it is someone who can advocate on the senior's behalf. Families are allies and partners in the well being of a parent and should not be simply seen as visitors when parents are hospitalized. They should not be in the waiting room, wondering what's going on. Hospital staff worry that family input will take up valuable time but in the long run, it will save time since families are a valuable source of information.
Recently, an 82 year old Alzheimer's client was recovering from a twisted bowel. Her condition worsened and her doctor gave orders to have her moved to ICU. Because the charge nurse refused to follow orders, the transfer was delayed. Luckily, I had ordered a night shift caregiver for my client on admission. This nursing assistant was present when the charge nurse cancelled the doctor's order, calling me at 2:00 am. I was able to communicate with the physician explaining the charge nurses resistance to follow orders in the middle of the night. We were fortunate to have had a knowledgeable "team player" who didn't think twice about contacting us. Sometimes it makes a difference between life or death.
Sometimes family members don't see the value of employing private caregivers when parents are in the hospital. Because family members cannot be present 24 hours a day, advocacy in any form is the best protection. At the very least it is another set of eyes while family members get their rest. For family members who choose to go it alone however, please remember to employ the following techniques:
Ask everyone who enters your parent's room if they've washed their hands; ask nurses to read out loud the drug orders; make sure they check your loved one's ID braclet; always ask the reason mom or dad are getting new medications; be alert for pressure wounds; make sure parents are moved often and lifted when transferring; bring games to help family with brain stimulation; keep a journal for observations; be patient and appreciative with staff as they may be administering to more sickly patients; don't hesitate to speak up if you have concerns, and if all of the lingo and the sight of blood makes you ill, hire an advocate such as a professional Elder Care Manager who has sufficient experience interacting with medical personnel and can advocate for you on your parent's behalf. An Elder Care Manager can partner with you to ensure the right procedures are being maintained and is someone who understands the medical process and today's limitations in healthcare. Thank you and feel free to comment.
I Have worn many hats in my day: Nursing Home Assistant Admin and Activities Director, Assisted Living Admin, Case Management for the State-wide Medicaid Program, and Trainer for Dept of Elder Affairs.