Take Control of Your Health Care Decisions… or Someone Else Will! [Part 1 of 2]
Too often seniors and their families take a passive role regarding important health care decisions and rely exclusively on their hospital or rehabilitation center. After all, you are in the middle of a serious health crisis and you are counting on health care experts to make the best decisions for you. Unfortunately the truth is that these facilities are businesses, and many have developed sophisticated processes that are designed to maximize insurance and Medicare profits. Against this type of corporate structure you may be at risk of becoming a victim of health care decisions that favor profits over your care.
In order to ensure that you receive the care that you need, it is important to take an active role in gathering information in order to make informed decisions. If you want to take control of your health care then you need to take the following steps.
Say Hello to the New Boss
If you want to take control of your health care decisions then you will need a promotion. The first and most important person that needs to understand who is in charge… is you! It can be difficult to stand up to people in the health profession, but that’s exactly what you are going to do. There is a new boss in charge of your care and the good news is that it is you. Congratulations! Now, take a moment to soak in your new role and feel good knowing that you have picked the best person for the job. Now roll up your sleeves, because there is work to do.
The entire facility staff, from doctors to discharge nurses, is there to serve you. However, they may be used to calling the shots without fully discussing your care or options with you. Fortunately, you are a really smart boss – the kind that asks lots of questions – and that is going to change. You are going to ask questions and demand explanations in plain language that make sense. You may be a patient, but you are not a child. You deserve answers that satisfy you.
What?, When?, Why?, Who?, and How? are going to be your favorite questions. You are going to ask these types of questions until you are comfortable with the answers and convinced that a specific recommendation is in your best interest. For instance, if a test is recommended you might want to ask, “Why am I being scheduled for this test?” “How is the test performed?” “What do you expect to learn from the test?” …and, most importantly, “What will you do with the test results?”
That last question is the one you should most carefully consider. There is no shortage of seniors that have been needlessly subjected to tests that, regardless of the results, do not lead to any treatment. If the proposed treatment requires invasive surgery and you have already determined that you are not a candidate for the procedure, then what purpose does the test serve???