May 19, 2005
Trying to make a difference
I started working as a nurses aide right after graduating from high school. In 1976 I graduated as an RN. Following 30 years of hospital nursing, I am now doing long term care (LTC).
In 2000, my father became ill. His physician gave little hope for his recovery. He was then on oxygen 24 hours a day, diabetic in chronic heart failure (CHF), and having gastro-intestinal bleeds which the physician assured me were Coumadin related. The physician said "You know, he is 80 years old. Do you expect him to live forever"? I said "No, but I want him to have the best quality of life he can have while he is here". I took off work, and cared for him. I found a different physician who cared about his quality of life. He was evaluated at the Cleveland Clinic.
Dad required an aortic valve replacement. A few months later he needed a bowel resection for colon cancer – something the previous physician never bothered to look for. I began to rehab him slowly. When he finally improved and off oxygen, I decided to enter long term care to see if I could make a difference for others as well.
As an ER nurse I had often lamented the LTC patients who were not sent for medical care soon enough for there to be a good outcome. I am now the unit manager of a skilled wing in a LTC facility. I have a variety of surgical as well as medical residents and am seeing improved outcomes with rapid interventions.
The elderly should not be shuffled off to LTC just to die. They need to feel they are a part of their surroundings and know they are cared for by people who are concerned about them. Their health and well being should remain a priority. Immediate action and vigilance improves outcomes. When the time for death comes, we are there to insure their dignity and comfort.
Despite the grim prognosis the original physician offered, Dad, now 85, is able to be outside planting Azaleas and raking up debris from winter. We must make efforts to improve long term care now.
Remember…we will soon be the ones being cared for.
An RN from Ohio.
Posted by: | Aug 19, 2007 4:04:59 PM
I brought my 89 year old mother to see a cardiologist because her feet are swollen and cyanotic. So he ordered a series of test and told me that regardless of the results he was not going to do anything. It is very sad that a lot of physicians will not do anything for older patients and will always assume that they are all going to die anyway so why bother.
Posted by: NM, RN | Aug 2, 2005 1:29:38 PM
excellent post.. I am also an ER nurse..
I am also my mother's health care provider
The system is broken... the eldery are falling through
the cracks .... that are becoming fissures
we need to fight for........ and advocate for....... all our elderly patients.. we are sometimes all that is left for them.
how can you ever look them in the eyes and not see... yourself..your parent..
how can we evr tell them no...
or I haven't the time...
Robin Pleva RN Massachussettts
Posted by: robin | Jul 23, 2005 11:36:03 AM
I worked in LTC also and can vividly remember an M.D., who on a call about a woman with lung congestion and elevated temp,asked me" What do you want me to do? She's old,and she's going to die." I could not believe the cruelty and lack of empathy that some physicians have for the elderly. I too, love working with people with lots of "life experience" and would never consider them "old" and "ready to die". I am glad others share in my experiences.
Posted by: Bonnie Duea | Jun 14, 2005 7:19:25 PM
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