Care transitions challenge seniors

physical therapy

My dad recently went through a difficult transition: from the ER to the hospital to rehab and then home, all as a result of passing out due to orthostatic hypotension (falling blood pressure when standing or stretching). These movements from place to place and practitioner to practitioner are called “care transitions” and occur as a patient’s needs change. Unfortunately, handing a patient off from one team to another is not something that’s been perfected in our healthcare system. Since a majority of care transitions occur among seniors who may experience significant physical or cognitive challenges, having a spouse, family member or friend who can advocate for them is crucial to their recovery. For my dad’s sake, thank goodness we were there. After three nights in the hospital, my dad was transferred to a rehabilitation center, a place where he could receive physical and occupational therapy and nursing care to regain his strength before he returned home. My mom and my sister...

Why are you calling me?


A few Saturday mornings ago I was jolted awake by a phone call at 6:15. “Is this Andrea Gallagher?” “Yes, who’s this?” “This is Lifeline, Mrs. Gallagher. Your mother pushed her Lifeline button a little while ago and asked us to call an ambulance. Your father passed out. He and your mom are on their way to the hospital.” With a trembling voice I asked, “Do you know which hospital?” Somehow I thought this was a more appropriate question than “How is he?” since I figured she did not know. “No, I don’t. Their preferred hospital is not on our form.” “It is Lowell General. Please write it down for the future. Did you call anyone else on the list?” I asked, knowing my two sisters are listed on the Lifeline form. “No, you are the first person I called after the ambulance.” I was thinking, this is crazy, I am 3,000 miles away. My sister Carla lives three minutes from my parents; why didn’t they call her? I thanked the lady. She was very nice, and before hanging up she gave me one...