Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A plea from the daughter of an elderly parent

Dear medical folks:
Thank you for fixing my mom’s broken hip and for being so kind to her. She’s 88 and while not quite as with it as she once was, she’s a human being who deserves the best care, and she got it.
I have just one tiny request for your support staff, however: Having an elderly parent means you must be flexible enough to deal with whatever comes next, but it does not mean that you can abandon your job or your life.
Having a roadmap of what comes next is helpful. For instance, if insurance says it will pay for two weeks in a convalescent hospital and you do the math and then base decisions on that date — decisions about when family members should buy a plane ticket and come and help with home care and such — it would be good to know that the hospital got permission from insurance to extend the stay. It’s especially good to know you got permission to extend the stay before the day it’s thought she’s being discharged. Especially if you knew it two days before that and never bothered to say anything. Especially if her daughter has been asking and asking you when this will happen. Especially if her other daughters have already bought their plane tickets.
Her hip is healing, but your communication is broken. I hope you’ll give as much attention to fixing that as you did to repairing the damage from her fall. We’ll all feel better.

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