A Patient Advocate's View

2020 Where did the time go?

I can’t believe it’s been six months since I posted on the blog. Shame on me. So, what have I been doing that kept me so busy?  Is a blog really relevant today or are my LinkedIn and Facebook posts taking their place?

Well, I think the blog is relevant as it stands as a permanent record, as opposed to my social media posts which are here today and gone tomorrow. So here’s my “top did this” list for the second half of 2019.

  • July 2019 I signed up for the course PLAN FUTURE ME, from Carol Marak. There are 17 modules in this curriculum which walks you through the process of understanding who you are now and where you want to go as you age.   I’ve finished 14 of the 17 modules so far. You really have to be honest with yourself and go back a few times as you think about what may happen if you have a change in your health care, financial or legal status. Carol walked me through the modules on ZOOM. She also offers the course to groups.
    Carol Marak Instructor,  Founder Elder Orphan Facebook Group, and the creator of the Plan Future Me digital course for solo agers. Carol is the go-to authority on aging alone at home.
  • Two of my clients went into the hospital for July 4th Weekend. Luckily I was able to get them into the same hospital, so that visiting wasn’t too bad. The emergency room was fun, with me going back and forth between cubicles and the doctors getting confused. “Don’t I know you?”
  • In August, I joined the first networking group that is outside of the elder care industry, since I last served as an Ambassador for the NY Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s. Step Ahead  holds small group meetings for business owners. I am really enjoying the spirited discussions from this seasoned group of entrepreneurs.  So far, I’ve worked with Glenn Pollack of to upgraded my business cards and badge. I also found a CPA to handle my client’s taxes, many of them haven’t filed for years and Steve made it a reasonable seamless process.   I also worked with Ronit Rogoszinski, Certified Financial Planner who helped me with a complicated plan for one of my clients.
  • In September, I moved two clients from Independent Living into Memory Care. One had been attended to by full time private aides since April, in an attempt to get her acclimated into the assisted living community from her home. When it became obvious that she was sleeping a lot and really not participating in activities, including not going to meals, we upgraded her care within the same residence. Now she is brought to eat meals on the same floor with people that she interacts with all day. She is doing much better, and the cost is one third of what she was paying for the private aides. The other client was taken to the hospital with dehydration and malnutrition. After four years at the same residence where she had been well known for being a walker and conversationalist, she was just not able to do those things anymore. For her 99th birthday, she asked me to let her die. I suggested that if she was planning on dying soon, she should prearrange her funeral.   The funeral directors came to visit her for her birthday with cannoli’s and set it all up. We laughed and cried and she was happy to have things settled. Later that day, she called me to say that she wasn’t feeling well. After a few weeks in the hospital and rehab, we decided to change her room to where she would have more attention, especially for incontinence care.  She recently told me that I did her a big favor. She especially likes the extra help with dressing and not having to go down in the elevator for meals.
  • Also in September, I started with a new client who just needed a little help at home. She hired me as security because she was going on a trip to Paris and wanted to make sure there was an emergency contact, just in case. As it turned out, she had a fall in Paris and then returned home to be admitted immediately into the hospital for pneumonia. So, my second meeting with her was bedside where they told me that the patient was cleared for discharge. They assured me that she had all the equipment she needed at home. I asked her if she was comfortable with using her own nebulizer and had the medication she needed. She said, “I think so, I haven’t seen it in a few years, but it must be somewhere in my apartment. ” Needless to say, I told the hospital that she could not go home alone. They said, too late, we already signed her out and arranged for transport. They were no help when I asked them to arrange for someone to help her at home. They said someone would contact her in a few days. Luckily, I knew of a licensed home care agency who arranged to meet us in two hours at her home.  We’ve continued to use Senior Helpers several days a week, as it turns out that the client is more than a little forgetful and really likes the help of someone to shop, cook, clean and do laundry. The client also realizes that she should have someone to help her in the shower and to go with her on errands, especially since she has long term care insurance that will pay for it all.
  • October brought more patient hospital visits. One patient who suffers from Alzheimer’s had a bad fall and required a hip replacement. What is a big procedure for anyone, became that much more complicated. It was a constant battle to make sure that her updated health care proxy and living will followed her from emergency room, to bedside, to the operating room and recovery. I probably spent as much time in administration as by her side,  getting the computer to say that I was the emergency contact and agent instead of them calling who they last had down, when she went there twenty years ago. I realized that if I didn’t want to spend 24 hours a day there, watching that they didn’t try to give her anti psychotic medications or think that she required placement in a nursing home, that I needed to hire a home care agency to provide a companion in the hospital. The need for an intermediary continued into a long stay in a rehabilitation facility.  The bottom line was that there was no training of the hospital or rehab doctors or staff to understand the various stages of dementia. To them, people were either independent, have family to tend to all their needs or they should be in a nursing home with pureed food. The patient is home in her residence now receiving physical therapy four days a week and enjoying her familiar surroundings and friends. The memory care unit is able to care for her without the need for the cost of private care.
  • In between emergencies,  I  kept up with regular visits to my clients, including joint sessions with Helen Beegel, Clinical Social Worker who helps me to understand what my client’s are feeling about their situations. They all love Helen and value her advice.–beegel/
  • At the end of October, one of my viral Facebook celebrity clients passed, on his birthday. I wish he had just stayed in his bed at the residence where he had private care, however the EMTs took him to the hospital even though the patient had a DNR and a MOLST form saying that he did not want any treatment. After admitting him, the hospital told me that since he had the MOLST on file there, he would be discharged. But, the residence he came from said they could not take him back because he required suction for his lungs, even though he was non-responsive and it was obvious that he was not going to recover. So, I was forced to write a check for $40,000 so that he could be sent to a private hospice instead of one for the indigent.  I was assured any balance would be refunded as he didn’t last three days.  I put a stop on the check and sent them a check for payment in full for the three days.  The funeral was on a beautiful day and I’m sure he was happy that his friend and rabbi held a very moving service. His family, (except the one cousin who was my contact) who never visited or contacted him in the years I worked with him showed up, but left quickly when they heard he had left all his money to charity.   
  • November was a social month.  There were health fairs from FrostBiz at the Council Center in Brooklyn and then the big fair at the Sid Jacobson JCC featuring Teepa Snow, Dementia Expert.  Image may contain: 5 people, including Ilene Greinsky and Caryn Isaacs, people smiling   Ilene Greinsky who does all my Medicaid applications, joined me at our new tablecloth. These are always great events and lots of information is given and received.
  • December came up quickly with Thanksgiving being so late in the month. Holiday parties were a great time to catch up with old friends and make new contacts. In between the parties, Iris Bikel, Attorney  and I held two big events. Pamela Glasner, Filmmaker was a big hit and almost a hundred senior service professionals attended the event. The audience was truly moved by Pamela’s story and crushed to see Mickey Rooney begging advocates to call their legislators, the district of attorney, adult protective services and everyone they can to let them know about elder fraud by family and friends.     Image may contain: 3 people, including Iris Bikel and Caryn Isaacs, people smiling, people sittingImage may contain: 1 person, smiling, text
  • Then we held a workshop on December 12th with Susan Eisner,  which had over 30 social workers attending Atria Kew Gardens   to practice Mindfulness, Meditation and Guided Imagery for ourselves and how to use it for our clients. The program offered the first Continuing Education Credits for Board Certified Patient Advocates in NYC.
  • At these events, Iris and I talked about the fraud cases we have handled for our clients.  When patients are brought to the hospital alone, without anyone accompanying them and in crisis mode, the hospital is left to decide where to “place” them.  Often, they have no information regarding their agent under their health care proxy or power of attorney and many times the patient can’t communicate their wishes.  Hospital staff then hounds the individuals into giving names of relatives simply in the hopes of getting rid of their problem. These family members may have little to do with their relatives. The person becomes an easy target for their supposed loved ones. The family member then preys on the patient’s weaknesses, as soon as they find out that money is involved. We help our clients gather their very necessary legal documents so that true advocates can protect them against fraud.  We contact legal authorities and work together to retrieve lost property and assets, while also keeping the individual safe and secure for the future. We bring the discussion full circle to how well the clients are doing now.

That’s just the events off the top of my head for now. Here’s wishing everyone a very healthy and happy New Year. Please join me at Facebook and  and LinkedIn for daily updates and meeting notices.






January 5, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment