Saturday, July 24, 2010

Help Aging Parents: Partnering With Parents in Healthcare

Do we help aging parents by becoming parents to our parents, especially when they are of sound mind? Are we supporting feelings of control and independence--feelings that help parents age well? In this past Tuesday's post family members basically took over--either to persuade or make a unilateral decision regarding very serious health care for aging parents. That made me pause.

In the first example, the stroke victim was not able to advocate for herself initially. Someone had to step in if the outcome was to be any better than the ultimate nursing home option her doctor envisioned. She was never left out of the loop, however. She knew the reason for each action, presented in a way that offered hope--so she wouldn't lose the will to fight to regain as much normalcy as possible.

In the second example, family members put great pressure on the colon cancer relative. While not feeling well, and do doubt having countless thoughts about well-being, comfort, life and death (to name a few), the relative was of sound mind and did see the merits of getting a second opinion....even if it meant a long plane ride.

As we impart information and try to help older and aging parents accept our advice and recommendations, we have a better chance of success when we pull them in psychologically to work with us--assuming they are mentally capable. And it seems to me, even when they don't seem mentally capable, keeping them in the loop at the least shows respect and at the most could possibly activate something positive from within.

With that in mind, having called attention to best hospitals and best specialty departments, it makes sense to realize not everyone will/can take advantage. As a fall-back position--or even a front-line position--it makes sense to know which are the best hospitals in aging parents' and grandparents' hometowns.

To fill this need the Hospital Quality Alliance, run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, run a website: According the AARP's June 2010 bulletin, it measures and records patients' outcomes from local hospitals.

The site links to different sections that compare hospitals, tell you how patients with certain conditions fared after hospital care, whether they had to be readmitted within 30 days, and the death rates in certain cases. The quality of care they received during a recent stay is also provided from answers to a survey. Only hospitals that have agreed to release this information to the public are included in this government data site.

In answer to: "I just moved to a new area. How can I find out which hospitals are considered the best in town?" the AARP Bulletin's "Ask the Experts" section provided the above information. Seniors obviously care, but may not know where/how to find this information.

Add this to the objective information that adult children might want to provide to help their parents age well. lt's good information to have when aging parents decide to move; and may even figure into a decision about where to move. And of course it helps prevent having to scramble for hospital information during an emergency.

No comments:

Post a Comment