Why four ears are better than two when it comes to healthcare

Many readers know just how complicated the healthcare system can be these days. I work in the system and I even have trouble at times putting the pieces of the puzzle together. With this in mind, I feel for those people (especially our older folks) who have to navigate this system on their own. 

I have personally been witness to how the healthcare system can fail our elderly patients. The following explains why I think it is so important (if you are an older person) to have someone go with you to your medical appointments. Four ears are better than two. 

Our healthcare professionals should be sensitive to those who are hard of hearing, but often they are not. These professionals have been taught that the most important things to remember for someone who is hard of hearing are to directly face the person, speak slowly and in a low/deep tone. Unfortunately, time after time, I witness healthcare professionals who throw these techniques out the window. 

They are in such a hurry that they are usually doing three things at a time while they are talking and asking the patient questions. They don’t realize the patient is missing half of what is being discussed. The patient is nodding in agreement, not because they understand, but because they want to be socially correct. 

The paperwork involved in the healthcare system can be very overwhelming. Forms can be confusing and difficult for our older folks to complete. Medical terminology can also be confusing. Often, older patients leave out important details that would be helpful to the professionals. 

A hospital or nursing home stay can also be difficult to manage alone. The number of repeat questions can be very frustrating. Sometimes it feels like there is a huge lack of communication between the healthcare professionals and the patient is left to answer the same questions over and over again. 

Having someone else listening and paraphrasing for the patient can make a world of difference in the quality of the medical appointment, hospital or nursing home stay. 

Kristi Vaughn

I am a Licensed Social Worker and owner of Adult Comfort Care: A Person Centered in-home assisted living resource for seniors and their families.

Read More on Health & Wellness
Volume 5, Issue 11, Posted 9:47 AM, 05.29.2013