From the desk of Amy O’Rourke.
Just today, I was talking to a daughter – her mother had broken her arm. Her mother is 98. The daughter was calling to ask me what I thought of her mother going in for surgery. HMMMMMM.
A few months ago, an 88 year-old client of mine told me he talked to his physician. The physician was recommending that my client have his blood sugar monitored four times each day. And that he get started on insulin. HMMMMMMM.
The above examples are not extreme—these conversations happen all the time. And so do the treatments suggested. And they happen quickly.
If you are caring for an aging relative, you have the freedom to slow the process down and take your time to reach the decision that is best for your family member. You can take some time to “HMMMMM” on your own. Keep in mind what the goals of the aging person are. Do they want to retain the ability to walk, go to the bathroom, to eat? In essence, do they want to retain the ability to function well in their daily life? Are they willing to risk anesthesia for something that might heal – albeit more slowly – on its own?
These days, there’s a treatment for everything. And overtreatment in healthcare is real. Overtreatment with an aging person can cause significant harm – and with a healthcare system that works fast, harm can happen before you realize you have a choice.
Because, you know, you can say no. Slow the process down, ask for evidence that the procedure will work. Ask for information about how the procedure has affected other aging patients. Ask for a clear outline of the risk involved.
As I was leaving a meeting with one woman, 100 years old, I asked her what her secret to her long healthy life was. Her response? “I eat right, get my exercise, and I stay away from the doctors.”