Telemedicine: Parenting Parents
How does one ‘parent’ parents especially today when anything (dates, prayer cloths, holy water, in home services, orthotics, healthcare consultations and medications) can be ordered anytime via traditional and smart devices that our seniors have readily on hand? I wondered… myself feeling caught between a vise personally having senior parents of my own while professionally dealing with adult children of others calling to complain about durable goods and medications ordered through one of several telemedicine companies I’ve contracted my services to over the last year. You can say, Dr Bagley’s gotta brand new bag!
Like many doctors, I’ve grown weary of traditional medical practices realizing it’s not feasible, nor affordable for all!
What we as adult children of seniors must keep foremost in or minds is that our parents have unlimited access to advertisements that they often take advantage of without our knowing. And, when challenged they are embarrassed conveniently forgetting fearing criticism, repercussions or truly, their recollections failed!
My own seventy-nine-year old mother has us on our toes constantly. And, I might mention her memory is intact! Now, imagine a parent whose faculties come and go armed with a credit and insurance card and a smart device?
I had no words on this timely topic until now that telemedicine companies are like Spring’s petals… constantly blooming! And, from what I can tell, they have charged no one or department with the arduous, ethical task of determining whether the orderer suffers memory/judgement deficits of any kind when placing orders and sharing personal information. But, whoa, Nellie!
How about your doctor’s office, diagnostic center, local hospital, general surgeon, department of motor vehicles, internet service provider, or religious organization, etc? Do these well established businesses REALLY perform brief psychological assessment evaluations before proceeding to take and fill orders? Again, with business being business, how would they and who would go about it with profits soaring rising and shareholders smiling regardless?
And, do we REALLY want more government regulations and sanctions? I have no answers or solutions.
I offer this blog on parenting parents in this brave and bold new day of telemedicine. I field several calls/week from adult children of senior parents assuring them no nefarious act occurred, that their Senior’s cards, protected health information hasn’t been jacked and sold! The orders I review and approve result from a parent placing an order offering their personal information (insurance, health) to a live operator on a recorded line. The operator disclosed this immediately and that the information will be entrusted to a telemedicine company, who most likely will follow up with calls of their own. And, they do!
Telemedicine: Legit or No?
Telemedicine companies I deal with legitimately verify information and order before assigning it to one of several contracted physicians, like myself, licensed in the patient’s state. Either I or a nurse end the loop by contacting the patient for details and in the case of orthotic orders, perform ing over the phone exams (asking patients after securing themselves against falls to bend, stretch, pick up items reporting pain or limitations in task performance). Offering this to the adult children of seniors, they get it!
Parenting parents for a host of reasons (pride, stubbornness, isolation, forgetfulness) ain’t easy! Our parents spend much idle time at home. They can fill that time ordering things, donating monies, talking their business to strangers getting into all sorts of trouble reminding me of their fears concerning us way back when at home as latch key children.
My mother has piles of letters requesting charitable donations from one charity or another. And, she is especially vulnerable to tele-evangelist and religious network pleas to donate, order, etc. We discovered when my step-dad died in 2015, her donations left her with barely enough to pay for meds and property tax. And, not one solicitor asked whether she’s eating, paying utility bills or has a roof over head. In fact, we found she’d even stretched diabetic, heart meds out to make them last another month just to be able to continue donating to charitable causes and such!
My mom now has a caller ID device on her phones instructing her not to take calls unless number’s programmer in phone and the callers name is announced. My brother screens her mail and I purchased a pill dispenser for her. Now, we can’t screen out televangelist pleas for cash. I wish they too, like telemedicine companies, would/ could devise ethical screening questions for seniors disqualifying them from donating or ordering based on financial, mental or other shortcomings.
But then, business wouldn’t be business, right?