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Ask Jennifer: Week ending...

Posted at: 01/04/2010 9:04 AM
Updated at: 09/03/2014 1:03 PM

Dear Jennifer,

My mother is in (name withheld) nursing home. I was told she needs to leave! I can’t believe it! The year before she went in was miserable. She is an alcoholic and has dementia. When she drinks she is ugly and throws tantrums. She isn’t safe. She used to drive drunk to the liquor store for more alcohol. Her doctor sided with her. He told me they’d worked together for years and she promised him she’d behave. We’d had that talk so many times and it never is true. I didn’t know where to turn. Then she ended up in the hospital and from there into rehab and they decided she needed to stay and I was so relieved. A year later and they’re telling me she’s improved too much and needs to leave! I can’t believe it. Can they do that? She doesn’t have her house anymore, it’s sold. I’m sure as heck not taking her back. Really? What can I do to stop them? I really need your help. Can you call me?

Thank you,
Joan

Dear Readers,

I spoke with Joan and I met with the nursing home. It turns out that the “home” doesn’t think she should leave and recognizes she would be unsafe. This was a mistake made by one employee who was inexperienced and thought she was advocating for the elder. She did not do her homework and did not check with her supervisor before she spoke. The employee was put on disciplinary action and she apologized to Joan. There’s a message in this for all of you: if you don’t like what you hear from one person, speak to someone else. Sometimes the doctor says something about discharge, but the social worker amends what the doctor said. Sometimes the resident or intern says something out of turn. And so it goes. I encourage families to request a meeting with the doctor, nurse and social worker. Get them away from interruptions. Have them focus on your loved one. And have everyone hear and discuss the same thing at the same time. And keep a journal of who’s telling you what.

Warmly,
Jennifer