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By Mary Cordova

As an introduction to this story, I have been in the senior housing and health care industry for over 35 years. My father in law recently landed in a rural hospital in Bremerton, WA on a Saturday evening. After hearing from his caregiver that he had taken a bad fall in the shower and was hospitalized, we immediately drove over to be with him. We found him in poor shape; my father in law is 6’4, 220 lbs. and was not able to stand, and could not even verbalize what had happened to him.

The doctor in the emergency department came in and took a look at him and said, “His old body is tired and is giving up, and he has dementia too. Do you have somewhere for him to go?”. I replied that “he’s unable to walk and needs his briefs changed and cannot stand” whereupon the doctor said, “I am sure there is a bed at your home he could have for the night until a hospital bed and wheelchair are delivered”. We felt terrible and agreed that we would of course give up our bed to my father in law of twenty four years.

The equipment was not covered by Medicare until he visited a new doctor, so we had to cover the expense ourselves to have it delivered and it took a couple of days to arrive.

With congestive heart failure, diabetes, confusion, a huge wound on his leg, a urinary tract infection, and no ability to walk, imagine our dismay when the hospital could not think of any reason he should be admitted! We received him the next day from the hospital, ill prepared and feeling the severe pressure to get him out of the hospital at all cost. I found myself lost in the hospitalization system, trying to find the right solution, and having to make decisions very quickly.

Four days later he ended up at Swedish Issaquah and received great care, and subsequently went to a rehab to recover some strength. We have run into so many obstacles during this process without knowing when exactly to bring him home to bless him with the quality of life that he deserves.

Since he was at a rehab, he almost passed three times, suffering through a urinary tract infection and pneumonia. After experiencing this on a very personal level, I can tell you how incredibly important it is to have a neutral party to give advice and support. I cannot think of one reason someone would not want to have free advocacy; someone to help hold your hand when things become overwhelming. Regardless of being a professional working with seniors for over thirty five years, I was overwhelmed by the process and often reached out to my colleagues to be certain I was looking at all of the options.

An advocate would have not allowed my father in law to come to our home and discharge unsafely. An advocate would have arrived at a safe solution, until the equipment arrived. An advocate would have conveyed to the nurse on the floor that the doctor’s lack of compassion and bedside manner was disappointing. An advocate would be taking the calls from the social workers about next steps. A senior advocate would also be another weekly visitor for my father-in-law.

When you have a senior in the hospital, a skilled nursing center, an assisted living or at their own home, if they are not thriving, you need a free senior advocate.

A professional can help guide and educate and help you make good decisions, always in the best interest of the senior. Let us be an advocate for your love one. A good long-term outcome is our number one focus.

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