Hospital Stay? Advocate Needed!

hospital questions overload
by Joan Blumenfeld, MS, LPC

Imagine a frail old woman alone in a hospital bed.

She doesn’t see well.  She doesn’t hear well.  She certainly doesn’t feel well.

She does not know exactly where she is or even why she’s there.  She is hooked up to beeping monitors.  Lab technicians are taking blood samples.  Bright lights are shining in her eyes so she can’t sleep.  She is dressed in a thin hospital gown, covered with an even thinner hospital blanket.   She is cold.

She’s being barraged with questions, many of which she is simply too distraught to answer.  Questions come from doctors, from nurses, from social workers.

“Do you know where you are?”
“Do you know why you’re here?”
“Who is our President?”
“What year is this?”

“Do you have pain?”
“Where is the pain?”
“How long have you had the pain?”
“When did it start?”
“Have you had this pain before?”
“What medications do you take?”
“Do you have any allergies?”

“Do you have family?”
“Should we call them?”
“Where do you live?”
“Who will take care of you?”

And the questions go on and on, and are often repeated.  The answers are seldom passed on to the next department or even to the next person attending the patient.

The old woman is tired, fearful, and confused.  She desperately needs an Advocate who can offer support, who can calm her, who can give the needed information to the medical staff and maybe even get her a warm blanket!

A Geriatric Care Manager is just such an Advocate.  We stay with our clients in the ER.  We visit them daily in the hospital.  We arrange for aides to sit with them, if necessary.  We are there when the discharge plan is delivered, to insure that the after-care arrangements are as organized, kind and effective as can be.

Pearl of wisdom:  If a loving family member cannot attend to the hospitalized elder, find one of the many experienced Geriatric Care Managers.  They will be your eyes and ears and make the hospital stay, as well as the return home, as smooth as possible.

Joan Blumenfeld is a Geriatric Care Manager based in Fairfield County, Connecticut. For information visit her web site  ©2010 Joan Blumenfeld

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