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Aging in Place – NO Choices

by Louis on February 3, 2011

I called my neighbor Maddie the other day to see if she needed milk or something. I have lived across the street from these folks for 25 years. Maddie’s husband Fred is one of the smartest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He has every tool ever invented and knows how to use each and every one. Dementia hit early for Fred. At 82 there is almost nothing you can contact except the sweet residual.

Maddie did not quite sound frantic but what she needed was a ride to pick Fred up from the hospital. He is not eating. They are having real trouble balancing his sodium and sugar. They said they would discharge him Thursday. Their son Derrick left work to pick him up. BUT someone changed their mind (is there a mind? a collective NO mind?). Now they wanted to discharge him on Friday. Derrick could not go AGAIN!

Maddie hated to tell me her woe…but she had no choices.

I had no choice either. I shifted my day and made the trip. We stopped  and waited for a prescription to be filled on the way home. Delivery? Pick up later? No choices. While we waited I shared a few pleasant moments with a shell that looked like my buddy Fred who had no idea who I was or where Maddie had gone.

Yes we need to solve dementia…but we need the hospital to recognize what rides and prescriptions really mean to real folks. The lack of a system leaves us without choices. This is not Aging in Place. (see the difference at AiP2.0) This is a joke that steels our time and dignity.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bree February 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Oh Louis, this is a sad and too-common story.

And I spend a lot of time wondering about all of those people who do not have help living right across the street. Or are too embarrassed/prideful to ask. I wonder if it is like what they say about certain insect pests: if you see one, there are hundreds more in hiding.

Thanks for writing this and reminding us about today’s reality so we can work on a better future. Won’t be long before it is us who need a ride…


Jane February 12, 2011 at 4:04 am

I have been there with family and patients far too many times. I do believe that we need to stop being shy about telling our stories so they don’t:

1. keep changing their minds about discharge times

2. sending patients home with the wrong number to call for questions and problems

3. orders that say you are suppose to take a certain medication, but you have no prescription because someone has change their mind and not communicated their wishes to the patient or family

4. no firm plans for the nurse to visit after discharge leaving an already exhausted and bewildered family to navigate the insurance nightmare

5. no emotional support for the family caregivers who all of a sudden are IT 24/7 and feel like they need some TLC

If patients and families suffer and the right people don’t get the message we will not see the changes needed in our lifetime. I don’t believe it is a lack of willingness on the part of providers, but they don’t always know what is needed unless they hear it loud and clear!


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