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 →
I just finished reading Too Many Colonoscopies for the Elderly, a short article that appeared on the New Old Age blog at the New York Times. The March 12, 2013 post, by New Old Age journalist and editor Paula Span, explains how the United States Preventive Task Force recommends that routine screening colonoscopies not be performed on people older than age 75. It brought back some dramatic memories for my husband and me.
A few years ago we helped my husband’s 89-year-old mother go through the colonoscopy preparations and the procedure itself. She was exceedingly healthy and still six months away from a serious stroke.
Spending a day on liquids was difficult for the small woman — she was dizzy during the entire day and exceedingly so by the evening. Then she proceeded with the preparation, drinking the gallon of liquid and going through the various stages of diarrhea. Added to the dizziness was nausea, and she felt worse and worse. Despite her uncomplaining nature, getting through the final hours and procedure was a huge challenge.