Why Won’t the Medical World Stop Trivializing My Time?

My time is important, too!!

Recently I had a medical test at a community hospital with free guest wireless, and I accomplished all sorts of work while waiting. The somewhat invasive procedure was fairly quick but with a longer wait than expected. However, I barely noticed. When I arrived back at my job, I had done so much work at the hospital that it felt like I had hardly been away.

Juxtapose this with waiting, as I recently did, at a physician’s office for over two hours because his surgery took longer than expected. Now, I happen to know that he is a great surgeon, so I don’t mind that he’s late to my routine appointment. But I do mind that the office does not have wireless so that I cannot be productive. Or, if the office could have let me know beforehand, I’d have been happy to remain at work and arrive for the scheduled appointment an hour later.

The managers at the hospital understand that my time is important. Why can’t all doctor’s offices and hospitals stop trivializing our time? Patients lose an incredible amount — a significant issue for young and old, but especially for workers paid by the hour and adult children who take time off to accompany an aging parent to a medical appointment.

If you feel like me, read The High Cost of Waiting, a May 31, 2012 Baltimore Sun article by Ritu Agarwal, a professor at the University of Maryland. The author describes how much time and productive energy we all lose waiting at doctor’s offices. I share her frustration, but I want to add hospitals to the list.               Continue reading

Will Concierge Medical Practices Cause Medicare Decline?

Read High-end Medical Option Prompts Medicare Worries, an article posted by the Associated Press today (April 2, 2011). The article, by health reporter Ricardo Alonzo-Zaldivar, examines the increasing number of practices that are moving toward concierge medicine (also called retainer-based physician practices).

Concerns abound about how this might affect the access to care by Medicare beneficiaries. Although some higher income Medicare participants can afford to stay in concierge practices, many more seniors need to leave and try to find another doctor who delivers healthcare in a traditional setting. If the trend accelerates and a significant number of physicians take on the concierge model of practice, access to care could become increasingly restricted for seniors of average and lesser means.

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Aging Parents, Adult Children: Back Aches!

Most of us have experienced back aches of some type, and a fair number of our senior parents have back pain even more often than we do. For me, the only solution is to wait out a back ache and keep moving, even if it doesn’t feel so good to move (and it doesn’t). Most of us hurt, obsess, and use pillows — I do especially when I play the piano — wondering all the time why modern medicine cannot provide minimal medical care (a visit to a doc, a prescription, a quick co-pay, voila no pain) to solve the problem. Then one day the pain starts going away, at least a bit, though sometimes it doesn’t for a long time. While back pain can be, well — a pain — I do not want to even think about surgery.

Note:  If I exercise  and stretch regularly (4-5 times a week) my back pain is minimal. If I don’t exercise for a while, say for a week, the back pain returns at some point, and for the exercise and stretching to start working again takes some time. Check out this MedlinePlus tutorial about preventing back pain. When I am working hard to keep back aches at bay — which I should be all of the time — I use these exercises from the Mayo Clinic website in addition to walking and exercising on an elliptical trainer.

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Waiting for a Doc or for Anything Else: Possible Things to Do

Waiting for an appointment in a medical office is a pain in itself and not just senior parents. All of us hate sitting around, inactivity enforced, while we wait for someone to help us. If I don’t plan ahead, bringing something to do so I can use the time, I gently chide myself, because it’s a given that people wait at certain appointments.

Over at SeniorHomes.com blog, the post 15 Things to Do While Waiting in a Doctor’s Office by Shelley Webb R.N., has good suggestions that can make productive use of waiting time — just the right tone for the start of a new year. While I find that the seniors in my life tend to be more impatient than I do, anyone can make use of these suggestions no matter where the waiting occurs. (The other day I sat at the bank for over 20 minutes.)

Below are my three favorites from the list, things that I often put off, so working on them when need to wait in one place for more than a few minutes is an intriguing idea. I’ve added an editorial comment or two and a suggestion at the end. Continue reading

Too Many Medications? More Aging Parent Health Problems?

Check out this site about polypharmacy.

Polypharmacy is a serious problem for many seniors. Here on AsOurParentsAge I’ve written multiple posts (links to a few at the bottom of this page) about the medications that our aging parents take for various chronic conditions. I’ve wondered, after considerable experience with my husband’s and my parents, why they have so many, and more importantly, why their physicians do not coordinate the medications. It seems like it would be prudent for primary care physicians to review a patient’s medications, perhaps once a year, comparing and contrasting the drugs with patient experiences and outcomes.

My musings led me to a terrific blog posting by Joanne Kenen, “Pill Popping–Or Pill Stopping? Polypharmacy’s Impact on Older Patients.” Kenen, a health policy writer, posted her December 11, 2010, piece on the Altarum Institute blog — Altarum focuses on improving health care delivery. She writes about a study, Feasibility Study of a Systematic Approach for Discontinuation of Multiple Medications (abstract), published in the October 11, 2010 Archives of Internal Medicine. The journal article is not free, but Kenen’s blog post provides a comprehensive, almost perfect and easy-to-understand summary of the research, and she has even communicated with the researcher. If you have aging parents who are on multiple medications, I strongly recommend that you read these two articles, though you may need to read the journal article at a hospital library.

The study, undertaken by Doran Garfinkel, MD, set out to discover what might happen if seniors’ medications were re-evaluated and where possible, discontinued. Continue reading

Three-Part Series on the Rigors of Aging Parent Caregiving

This week I discovered a great three-part series about aging parent caregiving, written by an adult child and published in the Redondo Beach Patch. I recommend taking a few minutes to read this set of short articles.

When Mom Gets Old by Vanessa Poster appeared on March 15 – 17, 2010, and describes Ms. Poster’s discoveries of her parents’ needs and how she went about assuming caregiving responsibilities. Of special interest is Poster’s persistence at questioning of her mother’s diagnosis, a dedication that resulted in a different diagnosis. Each of these columns is easily readable and chock-full of great information.

The other two parts are When Mom Gets Old: The Diagnosiss and When Mom Gets Old: Lessons Learned.