|Judith Whitehead pictured above with her 94 year old father, Bert.|
Judith lives in Amherst New York and has worked in the ophthalmology field of
medicine for over 30 years and counting...
The elderly need an advocate to be their mouthpiece
I have worked with the elderly population for many years in the medical field, have a bachelors degree
in Gerontology and have seen people suffering from dementia in many stages.
Recently my elderly dad became very ill with a blood infection, high fever and Kidney infection; he was
taken to the ER for diagnosis and treatment. Being 94 yrs old, confused and with some dementia he was
combative and scared. Within 12 hours he was in a room to begin treatment for his sepsis; the quickest
mode of treatment was with IV antibiotics and hydration. The next morning he declined to drink any
fluids, was tired of having his veins collapse and was very angry. His case was given to a “hospitalist”
which is who inpatients are now assigned when entering a hospital for care. She spent a very short
time with him and made a judgement call…she decided to call palliative and hospice in for a consult
with the family; in other words, make him comfortable, and not treat his infection. Needless to say, I was livid.
In no uncertain terms I informed her we would not be giving up on his so easy; we started an oral pill
the next day. He began to respond, feel better, lost his fever and his white count dropped after a few
days to the normal level. He began to eat hearty meals and was able to return to his assisted living
facility in 4 days.
The hospitalist made a judgement call. Do we look at the elderly now as disposable; are they no longer
going to receive the best care first before giving up on them? Do we feel their lives are no more
important than a 50 year old with the same symptoms? I can see if he had had an ailment that was not
reversible; I can see if extraordinary measures were being asked of us; they were not. He merely had a
bad infection that could have been treated and by God it was.
His life may not be a bed of roses; true his mental capabilities are not what they used to be and he has
limited motion but was by no means ready to pack it in yet.
I hope health care is not veering in this direction; I hope our concern for cost effective measures do not
outweigh the compassion and concern for our elderly that they so greatly need. We are all going to live
longer lives with the medical advances available today; we had better learn to make better calls when
evaluating our senior patients. It’s a scary world out there if you are alone and elderly; line up an
advocate to be your mouthpiece in advance for these occurrences’ for they happen without warning.
Hana Hou, (Encore) Shared from Facebook...