Plan to Help Elderly Parents Set Up Electronic Medical Records

If you assist or provide support for an older elder in your family, check to see whether you need to help out with that individual’s electronic medical records (EMRs). You may have routinely set up your own EMRs without much thought, but many elder adults have not established or have had difficulty establishing their accounts.

EMRs are now a feature of every physician’s office and clinic. Frustratingly, doctors’ offices use different EMR programs, and most are not compatible with one another. Thus each person will often need to set up multiple EMRs, and add new ones when additional physicians enter the picture — something that can confuse a frail parent who sees several doctors.

EMRs offer lots of advantages for patients. for example, people to sign up for appointments and receive text reminders — much nicer than pesky phone calls. Patients and doctors can add information at almost any time and request renewals for their expiring prescriptions. Reviewing visit summaries, checking laboratory test results, and formulating questions before a new medical appointment is easier for patients, and EMRs offer physicians a clean copy of our medical history to read.        Continue reading

Keeping Elders Out of Hospitals as Much as Possible

H 4 hospAnyone who has spent time with an elder parent in the hospital knows just how easy it is for one problem to be solved only to have the person discharged with different problems. This is not necessarily the fault of the medical caregivers or the hospital itself — it’s a result of a system that puts older people into beds and keeps them there. Add in bed alarms, the inability to move much, and that hospitals isolate elder patients from their routines and support communities, and you have a recipe for unsuccessful care, a result of age associated hospital complications.

So I recommend reading The Hospital is No Place for the Elderly, a November 20, 2013 article that appeared in the The Atlantic. This piece aptly illustrates the conundrum of frail elderly patients with chronic health issues admitted to hospitals where medical care focuses primarily on fixing acute health problems. The difficulty is that most of frail elders’ medical issues cannot be fixed — but the quality of their lives can improve. Author Jonathan Rauch also describes several programs in the United States — teams of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals — that collaborate to keep patients as healthy as possible and out of the hospital. The teams even save money.             Continue reading

Grandfather First Refused Medicare Because of Scare Tactics and Misinformation

Affordable Care

If the system is too busy or too slow, do exactly what you do with online banking or at other online sites — wait a while and try again.

It’s funny how changes in health care policy seem to generate anxiety, anger, and all sorts of misinformation in the United States. Well, actually it’s not so funny.

How is it that so few people can scare so many others when it comes to keeping many more people healthy? But that describes what has happened with the Affordable Care Act. A small number of fear mongers have frightened many others — often citizens who can benefit from better access to health care.

My husband’s grandfather, a small-town merchant, refused Medicare for years, because of the anxiety, anger, and misinformation associated with the passage of the laws. He would have benefitted if he had signed up in a timely manner for the Medicare coverage that he was entitled to receive. In those days he would have needed to get the forms, probably lengthy ones, fill in the information, mail them, and wait around for several weeks — not like today when, once the IT experts tweak the computer systems, people will be able to sign up in a day or two.

Continue reading