I’m glad to see The New York Times covering this important, but often overlooked issue. For solo elders, the requirement for a medical escort to accompany them to and from procedures is a burden that is difficult and expensive to overcome. It can be so difficult that elders decide it’s not worth the hassle and skip the procedure altogether.
Colonoscopies are probably the most common procedure that falls under this rule. Because of the sedative medications used, medical providers require an escort, so a person can’t use an Uber or Lyft as transportation. The escort needs to be a person known to the individual or a medical professional. Not all elders have loved ones still living or located nearby to assist them. And the cost of medical professionals to provide escort service is not covered by Medicare.
This is one of many issues that the population of elder orphans, those without a local support network, can face.
My mother was forced to pay out of pocket for expensive medical transportation to get her to and from her cancer screenings and follow up tests. It makes no sense that Medicaid covers nonemergency medical transport, but Medicare doesn’t.
The article highlights resources solo elders may be able to utilize, including nonprofits and home care companies. Those involved in religious organizations may consider reaching out to their congregation. While there are resources, they take time, effort and sometimes money to utilize. The onus should not be on the patient to jump over high hurdles to access these potentially life-saving procedures.
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash.
5 responses to “Escort requirement causing some solo elders to miss important screenings, procedures”
This is the problem we’ve run into with my mom. She has so many doctor appointments, and we couldn’t keep up with them. On top of that, she also wanted to be taken to the grocery store and to have her nails and hair done. She lives in an assisted living facility which offers free transport within 5 miles, but outside of that she has to pay extra in addition to her rent. She complains all the time about having to pay extra. Up to now though, she’s been able to afford it, but if the economic banking issues continue, her retirement fund might run out.
We now do her grocery shopping for her, and I’ve agreed to pick her up from her salon appointments. She only has to pay for one way. All the rest she does on her own, at least while she can afford it.
As far as medical procedures where she needs assistance, you’re right, she puts those off all the time. Mostly because she has so many appointments she gets tired of trying to fit them all in, and those bigger procedures take her down for several days due to her bad health.
Good points here in this article.
Thanks for sharing your mother’s experience. You are right that the transportation issues go beyond medical appointments. A 5-mile radius is quite limited considering how most US cities are sprawled out.
That is such an important issue to be aware of. We used to enjoy helping an elderly friend with these kinds of trips. Her stories over a good cup of coffee and some cookies are precious memories. We never really considered how costly it would have beem for her to pay a service. Thanks for sharing this.
Those in need are fortunate to have friends like yourself. A strong community can make all the difference. Thank you for your comment.
Our Nepali friends came as refugees to our city and as we got involved with helping them get started. We were very impressed to see how the oldest son or daughter had the lifetime responsibility to care for their parents. It was unheard of for an older person to be living alone. We could really learn a lot from them.