Old People’s Hobby: Doctor and Hospital Hopping

As I have written about several times already, my 87 year old dad is living with me. It is a new adventure every day, and when I say adventure, I am being both gracious and facetious.

I never realized when he was living far away from me that aside from baseball and sport watching, and listening to music, his main hobby is his wish to visit every kind of doctor known to mankind.

We have already been to a cardiologist, an internist, a urologist, a dentist, and a general surgeon. If it was up to dad, he would have already seen a neurologist, a gastro specialist, an orthopedist, a rheumatologist, and a spinal specialist. In due time, dad, in due time.

He’s not driving now, and he has a list of complaints. Without work or other matters to worry his mind day in and day out, the little aches, pains and complaints occupy his thinking. My husband and I are his drivers and we DO work full time.

He’s already had two hospitalizations and he has enjoyed them beyond all measure. We are talking about him thriving on the attention.

Dad loves sitting around waiting, having me fill out his forms, and schmoozing with strangers in waiting rooms, nurses, aides and anyone else. I guess he figures it gets him out of the house, and he is always sure something is REALLY wrong with him.

The reality is that he is 87 years old. He is going to have days when he doesn’t feel perfect. Each and every ache and pain doesn’t need investigation. This is particularly true when there has been a ton of self-neglect as there has been in Dad’s case.

And here’s the thing, the complaint that drove us to the last hospitalization was due to his not following doctor’s orders from the internist and the general surgeon. The geriatric doctor at the emergency room, where we cooled our heals for 7 hours, gave him the same instructions to avoid further problems: drink lots of water, take a fiber supplement twice a day, and eat healthier.

Like a stubborn child, Dad wants to do what he wants to do, eat what he wants to eat, and ignore doctor’s orders if it is inconvenient. He is not helping himself feel better.

Maybe that’s because he’s too set in his ways and likes the attention he gets when we have a fright with his health.

The last doctor at the hospital pronounced my dad pretty healthy for an 87 year old. With the right diet and fiber, he could be feeling much better.

After the CAT scan at the hospital, but before the doctor pronounced him healthy, dad mournfully shook his head and said to me, “They will probably have to keep me overnight.” He was certain that something was really wrong with him.

Instead, he went off with orders for the same things that the internist and surgeon advised in months prior. Add to that, a lecture from me on self-care because I am not a nurse and don’t intend to be one. I told him if he didn’t help care for himself and choose healthier foods and drink more water, I was going to look at nursing homes.

He later told my husband that I threatened him. Darn right.

I spoke to a few of my friends who have elderly parents and they commiserate with me about the same kind of doctor and hospital hopping. It’s truly a hobby for our parents.

Let me hear from you – are you in this situation? Are you having fun? (Eye roll)


  • I’m a 28-year-old female with Crohn’s Disease and have spent the last several years hospital hopping. I’m tired of it and just want to live a normal life free of hospital visits and probings. I an with you 100 percent.

  • I’m not going through it but my Mother did with my Grandma. She died two years ago at 98 years of age. The best story I have from all of her doctor visits is the one to investigate a rash and itch she had on her buttocks. My Mom said they were walking down the hallway when the nurse asked “What’s the problem today Mrs. Jones?” and my grandma proceeded to lift up her dress, pull down one side of her underwear while saying “I’ve got this itch….” LOL She also loved the attention from doctors and nurses so after a year and a half of everyone in the family trying to take care of her, they did find a nursing home to have her move in to. Being from a small Kentucky town, she knew a lot of the other residents so it wasn’t too scary for her. It was honestly the best thing they could have done in my opinion. She enjoyed her friends and spending her day surrounded by nurses and doctors coming by as well as a living with other people her own age. She seemed to thrive those last years of her life. Good luck with your situation!

  • I feel very fortunate that we were able to hired a very competent caretaker for the last six months of my mom’s life. It meant so much to her..and to us.

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