My mother had lived a long and independent live when she began to show signs of dementia about 7 years ago. Long followed by a community primary physician for lung disease and general health issues, her mental decline coincided with the move by her physician to another part of the country. Our family decided to move mom to assisted living for her protection and care and we tried to connect with another community physician. I spent a huge amount of time trying to bring these new physicians up to speed on who my mother was and what her needs where but it was never very satisfactory. This was a difficult time as she continued her decline and her health was increasingly compromised. Each time she was ill, the physicians recommended visits to the emergency room - which were very difficult for my mother, where upon she was generally hospitalized. Each hospitalization resulted in a decline in her cognition and health and necessitated a move to a new living facility that could better manage her increasing needs.
After several years, my sister in law, a critical care nurse, recommended we look for a nurse practitioner who specialized in elder care to direct our mother's care. This was the best choice we ever made for her. Instantly, Betty Westfall, ARNP was able to appreciate the fragile nature of her condition. She established a warm and respectful rapport with the family and with my mother. She made house visits, completely eliminating the need for us to try to arrange transportation for someone as frail as my mother was. Under Betty's care, she never again needed hospitalization and any tests that were needed were performed in her own room. We had great communication with Betty, who supervised my mother's care even after hospice became involved at the end of her life.
Betty was involved with our mother for over 4 years and during that time, while mother did suffer substantial decline and even battled some serious illness, she never had to be hospitalized. Betty arranged all the needed care in a way that minimized trauma and disruption and always afforded our mother with the highest quality of life possible and, most of all, the greatest dignity and respect.
I strongly recommend that families with older, frail family members consider the option of a geriatric nurse practitioner. They are able to prescribe all needed medications, tests and treatments and have the time to visit with and get to know the patient and family involved.