This statement was taken from a recent phone call to our Aging Life Care Manager in charge of initial intake and education with families.
For a bit of backstory – the daughter was concerned about mom’s declining cognitive abilities and abilities to care for herself in her home. She felt it was time for mom to move into an assisted living to ensure her physical, cognitive, and safety needs were met. Mom agreed and has been happy in her new home.
Mom now needed to follow up with both her cardiologist and her neurologist. The daughter was shocked when the Care Manager disagreed with her excitement about the assisted living’s ability to fully support mom’s needs through providing transportation to her appointments.
She further explained to the daughter that there are multiple concerns regarding doctor’s appointments and various steps to ensure that the visits are successful. The transportation (literally taking mom from her new home to the doctor’s office) is only a very small part of her access and best use of her medical providers. Transportation to the appointment can be helpful – however, the most critical parts of the appointment happen beyond getting mom TO the appointment.
In cases of increased confusion, compromised judgement, recent hospitalizations, or medical fragility – it is important that loved ones get the advocacy needed at their appointments. It is often necessary for the family to become the “secretary” for their loved one – taking notes, assuring that all needed topics are discussed, and making sure all necessary steps after the appointment are completed. There may even be a time when their loved one needs assistance with their healthcare decisions – or for another to be completely responsible for their decisions. It is often in moments of crisis that this change of decision-making responsibility happens – and families can feel very lost without their own medical backstory. A great way to have what is needed (to jump in when necessary) is to know what is going on – and this is especially important regarding appointments outside of the assisted living.
Thus, it is vitally important for the family to continue to meet their loved one at the doctor’s appointment – even if the assisted living (or another means of transportation) is providing the physical transportation of the person. If the family is unavailable – then it will be important to have the presence of a medical professional who can “sub” for the family to ensure that the information is known, reviewed, and best utilized. As we explained to the daughter, an Aging Life Care™ Manager can help to fill in these gaps of availability and can become the “daughter for hire” who is able to be present at the appointments and to actively discuss with the family and the assisted living the best course of action for mom’s medical issues.
Wishing the best to you and yours! Lisa