Who You Gonna Call?

The Life Care Manager – A Stress Buster Everyone Needs

In 2016 my husband wound up in the ER with what was eventually diagnosed as pneumonia with systemic encephalopathy. That was a scary sudden event and his stroke-like symptoms a valuable wake up call. In the ER that day, my usually able-bodied and lucid sweetheart couldn’t sit up by himself nor accurately report what month or year it was. The med techs and PA’s kept asking me, “Is he always like this?” Of course not! But there he was that August in all his grey-bearded glory looking and behaving like a much older citizen than on any average day. He was hospitalized for a week, during which the doctor(s) purposely, I believe, made rounds before visiting hours. I never had an opportunity to speak with one, only the nurses, who deferred to “doctor’s orders”. When the system was ready to discharge Mike, I put my foot down and insisted upon speaking with an M.D. before I’d accept that man back into our home.

  • What was his actual diagnosis?
  • What should we do or not do to prevent a relapse?
  • What would be the early warning symptoms of a relapse or other related problems?
  • Is he still contagious?
  • Will he require any meds?(Any potential side effects?) Any respiratory stamina equipment?
  • Will the doctor/hospital be sending any home healthcare specialists to the house (e.g. P.T.)
  • Has the hospitalist reported notes on this event to Mike’s primary care physician (i.e. updated Mike’s electronic medical record)
  • Should any follow up be scheduled with a doctor at the hospital or in the community? When?

I Wish I Had Someone On My Side

Our sons live in New York and Florida. They were eager to help and good listeners during this health challenge, but too far away to create a local united front. We’ve now contracted with a professional life care manager to be our local back up in any future situation. Our life care manager, “Anna,” would be by my flustered, frightened side during admission – answering the hospitalists’ questions, asking informed questions of her own and taking notes. And she’d be there again at discharge, so that we get all the post-hospital care allowable and the instructions correct, no matter how complex they are or how much anxiety there is about bringing someone home in less than perfect condition. I think of it as having a rent-an-offspring living nearby, but one with professional training and connections. One who knows the ropes and speaks the lingo of the medical-legal-insurance industry. And someone who can objectively relate what’s going on to our concerned distant loved ones.

If you decide to go the same route, your “emergency quarter back” or “professional offspring” should get to know you now–while you’re still vibrant and engaged–to be able to advise on how to adapt your home and finances for optimal use later. A LCM can best counsel us on handling major physical and emotional challenges later if they see us handle smaller ups and downs over a period of years. I’ll bet you shell out for homeowners and automobile insurance every year hoping you’ll never have to use it. Why not pay the fees of a LCM whose services you’re more likely to need and more definitely will benefit from? Mike and I have identified a compatible Life Care Manager in Asheville and had an initial evaluation and second annual visit with this important member of our “Aging in Place Plan”. We probably will continue seeing her only once a year for the immediate future, with visits perhaps increasing to semi-annually or sooner if the need arises. Just knowing we have established this on-call relationship is a stress-buster.

Are you one of my people? “too young to worry about aging, but mature enough to prepare”? I truly hope so. I encourage you to take the proactive step of learning more about and seeking out your own Life Care Manager. This link will help you Assemble Your Age in Place Support Team; look for more tips in the Additional Resources Section of this website.