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What happened to Grandpa in the hospital proves to me yet again the importance of medical advocacy. Good medical advocacy improves odds for a successful medical outcome. Advocacy can take many forms. We have only recently moved to Chicago after having lived abroad for fifteen years. We are also still new to being responsible for Grandpa’s full-time care. Because of this, we did not have good doctors for Grandpa in place, nor did we understand that our closest hospital was as bad as it was.

When Husband’s sister had her brain hemorrhage, I asked the nurse what questions she would be asking if she were me, and then I typed them down. Having a written list to which I can refer when seeing the doctor means that our time together is maximized, and I don’t forget to ask everything I want to know. I like to make friends with the nurses, to learn their names, and to thank them continually for all their efforts on our behalf. I find this makes the nurses more engaged. While it can be impossible for a nurse to form a bond with a surly, complaining, half-crazy, elderly patient, they certainly can form a bond with me, and that bond helps them care for difficult Grandpa with greater grace. It means that Grandpa is less likely to be strapped to his bed at night because no one could bother yet again to remind him that he has a catheter in place, so going to the toilet isn’t an option.

Before his dementia, Grandpa was brilliant – a MIT PhD graduate, professor, author. Now he needs us there for comfort, for orientation, and to make sure the doctors are doing their jobs.

Also published on Medium.

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