As mentioned in my last post, my mom is 84 years old. In the last few years, I have been her Health Advocate. Recently, she fell in the kitchen and injured her right hip. Her initial x-rays did not show a fracture, but she was unable to bear weight on her right leg. The emergency room physician asked us what we wanted to do next.

Despite having a normal x-ray, I thought it was best to have my mom admitted to the hospital and get an orthopedic consult for another opinion. Additional tests confirmed a hip fracture and she had surgery the following day.

From the time she was admitted to the hospital until the time she finally came home from rehab I functioned as her advocate in the following ways:

1. Insisted on getting a second opinion to find out why she had hip pain despite a normal x-ray.

2. Spoke to the case managers within the first 24 hours of admission to understand why my mom was on observation status. If you need to go to a rehab facility, Medicare patients are required to spend three midnights in the hospital before a transfer to rehab. If you do not spend that amount of time, Medicare will not cover the cost of rehab. You need to be formally admitted to the hospital to start the three-midnight process. Observation status does not count.

3. Reviewed the MRI findings with the orthopedic team and approved her surgery.

4. Reviewed rehabilitation options with the social worker.

5. Reviewed her post-operative medications with the nursing staff and discussed side effects she was having from her medications.

6. Participated in the discharge planning from the hospital and the admission process at time of transfer to rehab.

7. Attended care-planning meetings at the rehab facility and planned for what she would need when she got back home.

8. Researched, interviewed, and arranged for a live-in caregiver to be with my mom around-the-clock.

9. Obtained the necessary equipment to use in her home to improve her safety.

10. Located an installer and arranged to have grab bars installed in her bathroom.

11. Obtained in-home physical and occupational therapy.

12. Accompanied her to all her follow-up physician appointments.

13. Reviewed her insurance bills and saved her over $3500 in incorrectly coded hospital and rehab billing.

My mom needed an advocate to navigate our often-confusing healthcare system to ensure that she received the care and resources she needed and deserved. She is now safely back at her own home and is able to continue to age-in-place.