Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

This blog may strike a chord with many of you if you have had to care or are caring for an elderly person. In my case, this is the second round of having to care for an elderly family member. The first experience was with a family member who had Alzheimer’s. The second and current experience is with a family member who had a stroke several years ago and recently spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from bacterial pneumonia and sepsis.

I was the primary caregiver of my family member with Alzheimer’s. That was in the early 2000’s and I must say the medical system was very good. When I needed help, I received it. Nurses and doctors were very good and very responsive. The experience was positive and although difficult, it was manageable.

My, how things have changed in the past 20 years. One would think medical service would only get better as time advanced. Sadly, that is not the case. The medical staff, nurses and doctors at the hospital provided excellent service and kept me informed. They care about each patient and it showed.

Administrative services have declined over time. It seems as if new staff with very compartmentalized duties have been created and it has led to more incompetence and less caring. Now, every hospital has case workers. At the hospital in question, case workers are assigned by floor and rotated on a weekly basis. A move from the 2nd floor to the 5th floor resulted in a new case worker. The following week, a new case worker for the 5th floor appeared.

Oft times there appears to be a lack of communication between case workers as well as with the medical staff when duties are rotated. Trying to get information from a case worker is nearly impossible. There appears to be a decided lack of compassion and empathy for families dealing with what may be the worst crisis in their lives. Incompetence becomes a problem when it takes a week to discover that the wrong billing codes have been entered. There is also a lack of communication between the hospital’s case workers and insurance providers. My insurance company has made repeated calls that go unanswered…crickets. I have yet to hear from the home health care company and I suspect that the case worker once again dropped the ball.

Your experience may have been different from mine and if so, I congratulate you. If there is another medical emergency in our future, I know I will not go to this institution again.

When the patient comes home a whole new set of issues emerge. It seems that every time there is a medical event with a senior, it leaves them weaker, more fragile and further deteriorates short term memory.

In my case, as a caregiver, I find that a great deal of time is consumed in making sure the senior eats properly, gets the necessary meds at the proscribed times, explaining why certain activities can no longer be done by the senior, making sure the walker is always used and answering the same questions repeatedly. It’s as if the person is a 4-year-old who will never learn new skills.

I’m not complaining but rather describing a situation that all of us may face as family members age. There is a support system if you can afford to drain your life’s savings. Many cannot. I write this because as our population ages, it becomes critical not just to have good medical care but also to have a good support system for all caregivers.

Some of you may have had or are experiencing similar circumstances. Please share by commenting and I will be sure to post your comments.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      


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