Having spent the last few weeks dealing with the health issues of an aging parent, I have a new found
sympathy for people who try to negotiate a health care system they don't understand, a bureaucracy that seems overwhelming and medications whose names appear to be written in Swahili. Having worked in health care for a long time gave me a distinct advantage that I wish everyone had, but doing many of these things 'long distance' will present continuing challenges.
A few things I learned:
Thank goodness we had an Advance Medical Directive all signed and sealed. If you don't have one of these for your parents or other family members, do it NOW. It is needed not only for end-of-life decisions, but to allow medical staff to share ANYTHING with you about the person's condition.
Make a copy of it and store in on your smart phone, computer, iPad, or whatever. You won't be sorry.
There are a lot of heroic people working in long term care. It is unglamorous and thankless. We spoke with a nurse who was on a 16-hour shift. We had many others go above and beyond to help us with appointments, transportation, etc., and take time with us when they had none to spare.
Just one appointment with a doctor who looks at you and LISTENS.. psychologically can make all the difference in the world. It was a long wait, but it was worth it.
I have a feeling I'll be getting more insights over the next few months, but you know what? I think it will make me better at my job, and that's a good thing.