I am Laura Morton, a Geriatrician, Medical Director, and a daughter from Louisville, KY. I have been practicing in the post-acute and long-term care setting for the last seven years. I enjoy caring for patients, their families, as well as working with the interdisciplinary teams in the facilities. Helping patients and their families through the later years of life, while managing chronic illnesses in order to maintain function as long as possible and maximize quality of life, are central to my daily work. Many days, performing my job can be challenging, both intellectually and emotionally, as well as more rewarding than I ever imagined possible. Over my career, patients and families have enriched my life with their stories and experiences, reminding me the privilege of physicians in sharing the most intimate parts of their patients’ lives.
The post-acute and long-term care setting has also touched me personally as a daughter. I am an only child and was always Daddy’s little girl. When I was a Geriatric Medicine Fellow, my father was diagnosed with dementia, likely frontotemporal. He had a rapidly progressive dementia with worsening in his cognition and level of function. He began declining more, unable to do some of his activities of daily living. He had difficulty with behaviors and agitation and we admitted him to an inpatient psychiatric hospital. As he continued to decline, my mother and I selected a nursing facility where my mentor served as medical director. My father spent his final three days in the nursing facility, receiving aggressive palliative care. The nurses, administrators, and nursing assistants were kind, compassionate, and supportive of my family during this difficult time. They cared for my father as if he were their own family. The high quality care that he received gave us closure prior to his death and helped my father throughout the dying process.
My mother was recently hospitalized and required subacute rehabilitation, which she received at a local facility. The therapy staff encouraged her to regain her strength and ensure a rapid return to her home and independence. During this stay, the nursing staff demonstrated kindness and a genuine interest in my mother’s recovery.
These personal experiences gave me the opportunity to view post-acute and long-term care through a different lens, that of a family member. Seeing the health care system from another perspective strengthens my resolve in my calling as a geriatrician and as a provider in this setting. I will be forever grateful to the physicians and staff members who cared for my family. I am also thankful for the privilege of sharing in my patients’ lives.