“Mr. Desonier, I think you can stop scheduling an annual colonoscopy from this point forward. You’ve been very diligent about this aspect of your health care for many years, but at your age, I think this procedure provides inconvenience and discomfort that you can do without.”
My dad was 84-years old when his gastroenterologist made that declaration. I never thought I’d say this, but that gastroenterologist is my hero. My father had one suspicious colonoscopy a decade or so earlier, and was advised to undergo that test every year to be certain that no cancer was present. If you’ve ever undergone this test – and you should have a baseline one after the age of 50 or earlier if you’re symptomatic – you’ll understand when I say that I’d rather have a root canal than have my colon flushed and probed every year. Here’s TMI for you: I’m 60 and had my first exam of that sort seven years ago and passed with flying colors. I’m on the ten-year plan so I have a couple years left before I hop on that table again. But I digress.
The above article will shock you to your senses as to how incentivized doctors are to keep prescribing outlandish medical procedures on their elderly patients. Most, but not all, such procedures benefit medical professionals and facilities and provide no benefit to the patients that undergo such procedures. Here’s a quote from the above article that is sickening in its implications:
Medicare spends a quarter of its $551 billion annual budget on medical treatment in the last year of life. A third of Medicare patients undergo surgery or an intensive-care-unit stay in their final year (of life.)
The author’s 80-year old father had a “stroke-blasted” body and underwent the surgical procedure of having a pacemaker installed to correct a slow heartbeat that gave him no health problems. Medicare paid $12,500 for that procedure. Her father’s family doctor didn’t approve of the cardiologist’s decision to perform that surgery. Medicare would have only paid that doctor $54 for a medical consultation with the family to weigh the pros and cons of such a procedure.
What’s the lesson here? There needs to be a greater focus on slow medicine in the form of palliative care, rather than fast medicine that dictates quick consults and immediate – and oftentimes drastic – medical intervention that robs the elderly patient of living on his own terms, and dying when its the body’s time to do so.
During this highly contentious and rude political season, it’s really difficult to discern fact from fiction. Oftentimes we get caught up in the rhetoric spoken by Talking Heads and dismiss what we’re hearing based on which Talking Head is doing the talking.
For the most part, I’ve trusted what the AARP has put out regarding issues and candidates over the years so I felt fairly confident in posting this article.
If you want clarification about the following myths, please take the time to read the above link.
Myth 1: The new law cuts Medicare drastically, so I won’t be able to get quality health care;
Myth 2: I’ve heard that Medicare Advantage plans will be cut or taken away;
Myth 3: I’ll have to wait longer to see my doctor – or I won’t be able to see my doctor at all;
Myth 4: If I have Medicare, I will need to get more or different insurance;
Myth 5: The new law “raids Medicare of $716 billion”;
Myth 6: The law is going to bankrupt America;
Myth 7: The new law will drive up premiums astronomically;
Myth 8: If I can’t afford to buy health insurance, I’ll be taxed – or worse;
Myth 9: I’m a small-business owner and I’ll pay big fines if I don’t provide health insurance to my employees;
Myth 10: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) basically turns our health care system into universal health care. So now some government bureaucrat will decide how and when I get treated;
Myth 11: If my state doesn’t set up an insurance exchange, I can’t get health coverage.
Moving Mom and Dad – Leaving Home is an article from the June/July 2012 AARP Magazine. Statistics on aging are astounding, and scary. “By 2020 some 6.6 million Americans will be age 85 or older.” That’s an increase of 4.3 million from the year 2000. Time to celebrate – right? We’re living longer – and in some cases – thriving in our older age. The reality of the situation, however, is that eventually we’ll need some sort of assistance with our activities of daily living (ADLs) that might require a move to a care facility of some sort.
The stories presented in the attached article describe family instances where emergent circumstances warranted an emergent decision to move a parent into some sort of care facility. The best case scenario, as this AARP article suggests is that you, “dig the well before you’re thirsty.” Nice sentiment – but not always possible.
I have written numerous articles for my blog that address the difficulties the caregiver, and the one needing care, go through when making the decision to choose a long-term care (LTC) facility for a loved one. Below are links to each of those articles. I hope they prove beneficial to you.