Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage taught me some very important lessons about Medicare, supplemental insurance and healthcare as I enrolled my 90-year-old mother in the hospital one week ago for a full physical evaluation.
I thought that our society had moved to far into do it yourself when technology took over the phone systems for most businesses including large corporations: press 1, 2, or 3. Fill up your gas tank, drive through, order your food, as well as learn all new technology for your smart phone without printed instructions.
The societal shift for living today also extends into the doctor’s office, the hospital, medical tests, and out patient care after most surgeries.
Enrolling mom took close to two hours because of the required paperwork and the shortage of volunteers at the hospital to take her to her room once the enrollment process was completed. The forms for enrollment are way to long for sick or injured people to cope with and I did not have a power of attorney employed until a full medical analysis was made so I was not allowed to assist.
That particular day the hospital was down seven volunteers and patients were sitting everywhere waiting to go to their designated room. She was getting weaker and more anxious as we sat there waiting for the wheel chair. Finally a wonderful volunteer came to take us both to her room. Thankful for volunteers in hospitals across California who do the work that used to be jobs of people employed in hospitals.
By the second day mom had had all her tests and evaluations done and began medications perscribed to help assist her with a failing memory and anxiety. The nurses began telling me that she would be going home the next day. I asked that she stay until the medications normalized in her system and we knew they would be safe and making her more comfortable once out of the hospital environment.
The nurse told me that Medicare decides when you go home and staying in the hospital for another day was not an option even though she has a very good supplemental policy. Medicare and the supplemental policy made no difference; the supplemental would not be accessed per Medicare regulations.
I checked her out on the third day. She was not ready to go home, nor were the medications working. She was angry with me for four long hours because I had put her in the hospital per doctor’s referral. It was the longest ride home we have ever experienced together.
I took her to her home, and caregivers that I hired continued administering the meds protocol. It was very helpful that while never having any formal training, they had experience dealing with memory loss and some of these medications. They became my mother’s lifeline and mine.
Ten days later the meds are working and she is becoming more the mom and happy productive person I have known all my life.
She is back to attending church, going out to lunch and dinner and keeping her home in the perfect order it has always been.
For all of you who have parents that are living long lives, you need to know that the patient has many protections in place that you and your good moral compass cannot override with out a power of attorney. It took two full weeks for me to get legal matters in place even with a well thought out family trust. The many greedy children who have used their parents money and resources have put us all at risk when it time to take the keys to the car, get full time live in people, and schedule doctor’s appointments and extended in-home care.
I understand why these protections are necessary but she could have died of a heart attack or stroke with all the stress of the situation before I could get a doctor’s appointment, proper tests done, and diagnosis. There needs to be an intermediate step that can be taken to get things done faster when a family member thinks they do not need help yet still have the legal right and responsibility to conduct their lives yet no longer are able to make positive decisions regarding health and home.
I am employing only the healthcare provision of the power of attorney and assuming only the responsibilities that she cannot do at this time. It brings me no joy to begin this process and it will be done in steps as her age prohibits her from making the other choices she has always made regarding her life.
That’s My Take
Dr. Gloria J. Alkire