Aging Parents: Hospitalization and the Importance of Family I’ve never been an alarmist, I think having the information below is just plain “smart.” While one could use the word “proactive,” it’s not a word I particularly like– but it’s also clearly applicable. Today we’re much more informed about our medical treatment, which sometimes involves more explanations from doctors than we can digest. This is a good reason to accompany aging parents to their doctor appointments if they’ll agree to it. 4 ears and 2 brains should be better than half that number, especially when people grow old. Let’s look at how this relates to supporting hospitalized aging parents~

(Dr.) Susan Love’s Illness Gives New Focus to Her Cause, appeared in last Tuesday’s NY Times Science section (2/19/13). While Dr. Love discusses her reasons for focusing her efforts on the causes of disease rather than the medicines to treat it, I found another aspect of the article telling–and that concerns the role of her family. While she talks about the 4-week ordeal following her bone marrow transplant, she says that family members “offered round the clock support,” advocated for her during that time “when she wasn’t very articulate,” and relates that one family member “slept in the hospital every night.”

An op-ed piece, Losing my Leg to a Medical Error  also appears in that 2/19/13 Science section. It’s written by a physician who is a professor of medicine at the U. of Florida. He recently underwent an above-the-knee amputation due to a preventable error associated with a procedure 17 years earlier on his Achilles’ tendon. He writes:

For the past two decades I have been studying how to prevent errors in health care,
and the irony of my present predicament strengthens my motivation to continue 
the quest. No one should ever have to experience such preventable harm.
And yet many people do…

This brings us to Marti Weston’s blog, As Our Parents Age, which is one of the 4 first runners-up (mine included) in the 2013 SeniorHomes.Com Best Senior Living Awards. I often read her posts in a bunch, and was doing so on Feb. 19th when I came across her early February hospitalization post: Elder in Hospital. Does a Family Member Need to be There, Too? The bottom line is “yes.” And Marti is specific about why and about certain things family members can do (which includes sleeping at the hospital) to avert problems.

That almost every aging parent and elderly person will be hospitalized for at least one health event is inevitable. Information from the above links gives us a “heads up”–preparing us to “do it smart” as we try our best to help parents (indeed any family member) age well.