Aging Well in the Gorge March 6th 2018

What do most of us have in common? A pill box of assorted medications? We’re a little slower but smarter? A sense we’ve all been through this before? Well, yes. But what we also have in common is most of us have visited the Emergency Room at least once during the last ten years. In fact, nationally, the number of us “over 65’ers” account for more than 20 million ER visits annually.
But we all know returning home from ER doesn’t mean everything is hunky-dory. There can be serious consequences from an ER visit, and it is important to know how, as a family member or friend, we can provide support once they return home.
In the article “For Elder Health, Trips to the ER Are Often A Tipping Point” written by Judith Graham for the Kaiser Health News, Dr. Kevin Biese, chair of the American College of Emergency Physicians’ geriatric ER accreditation initiative, offers these suggestions.
Make sure your loved one’s medications are the same as in the hospital’s computer. And don’t leave without knowing if any medications have been stopped or changed and why.
Make sure your loved one is comfortable. The average time a patient spends in an emergency room in Oregon ranges from 88 to 238 minutes. Bring her eyeglasses or any hearing-aid devices that can help keep her engaged. If there are indications of pain, encourage her pain to be treated.
Know what happened in ER including what tests were done and what treatments were given. Before leaving know what diagnoses the staff reached and what kind of follow-up is being recommended.
Communicate effectively. When the nurse or doctor explains what to do when you return home, repeat back what you heard to make sure you understood correctly. And don’t be hesitant to ask any clarifying questions.
Follow through. Ask about the next steps. Who is going to communicate with her regular doctor about what happened in ER? And should a follow up appointment be scheduled, and who should make it and when?  
Finally, the days after visiting ER are critical. If you can’t stay with your loved one, continue to keep an eye on her. You may want to arrange for extra help even if it’s only for a few days. (You can have meals delivered by Meals-on-Wheels.) Check in frequently to make sure the plan of care from ER is working. Are her needs being met, is her pain being adequately controlled (without the risk of addiction) and is her mental condition normal?  
The skilled nurses and doctors in ER want to make sure your loved one is given excellent care. But the emergency room visit is not the end, but just the beginning. It is important that you are both the comforter and advocate, so your loved one receives the best possible care during and after the emergency room visit.
I am scheduling a series of art programs that would include activities offered by the Columbia Center for the Arts and as well as documentaries about artists and various art movements. If you want to be contacted about these future programs, send me your name, phone number and email address.
I have only four tickets left for the matinee performance of the brand-new production of The Sound of Music at the Keller Auditorium in Portland on March 11th. The ticket price is $75 including transportation. Call the Center to purchase your ticket.
I remember back during high school, before grading on the curve became the norm, I had to score 95% to earn and “A”, and 88% to earn a “B”. But this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Jim Ayers, (which will be raffled off at the Center’s Cherry Festival Breakfast) (Oops, I mean the quilt, not Jim!) remembers 92% would earn you an “A”.
For this week’s “Remember When” question, in 1962 Marilyn Monroe sang a sultry “Happy Birthday” to what world leader on his 45th birthday? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a Jean Louis designed dress made of sheer, flesh-colored marquisette fabric and embellished with over 2,500 hand-sewn crystals and 6,000 shimmering rhinestones.
Well, it’s been another week telling myself, “Focus! Focus!”. Until we meet again, even a blind pig can find an acorn once in a while.
“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” Anaïs Nin

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