Doctor’s order is best gift of all

Doctor’s order is best gift of all

With a yearlong waiting list to enter a skilled-nursing facility for long-term care, my father was placed on palliative care at home recently. While it may not seem so, it was an early Christmas gift for our family.

The occupational therapist who had been helping teach my mother and sister how to safely transfer my father asked my father’s physician about a palliative-care consult, and the physician put in the order.

My father has advanced Parkinson’s, but he is not near the end of his life. He doesn’t have pain, but his breathing is labored, he has significant fatigue, he is depressed (who wouldn’t be?) and he has bowel and bladder issues. For all intents and purposes, he is homebound.

The local home health agency that was providing occupational therapy also has a palliative care and hospice division. So the same agency sent a new person to the home to evaluate my father.

Unlocking a new kind of care

A few weeks ago my dad landed in the hospital.

Mom drove him to the emergency room because his blood pressure was fluctuating wildly. To be accurate, this blood pressure condition has been going on for some time now. A year ago it was this same condition that took my father from hospital to rehab to in-home medical care.

All that care, but no cure. My father’s blood pressure fluctuations will not change; they’re a side effect of his worsening Parkinson’s.

This time, after three nights in the hospital, the discharge planner came to talk to my mom and dad. Her “plan” was to place my dad in rehab, so that the medical staff there could monitor his blood pressure.

When we asked how long, she replied, “A week to 10 days.”

My mom, dad, sisters and I wondered what monitoring would do if there was no treatment or cure

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