If you are a family caregiver and feel overwhelmed with keeping up with appointments with different physicians, trips to the pharmacy, lab work, managing medicines and special dietary needs for a senior you love, you are not alone! Chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, COPD, and arthritis afflict many older people – and frequently, they are dealing with three or more ailments at the same time.
When multiple physicians are involved, there is the potential for conflicting treatments and negative medication side effects. For family caregivers, it can be challenging to help a senior loved one manage all the tasks involved in dealing with multiple chronic health problems and several healthcare providers.
One crucial step to take to stay on top of a senior’s various medical care needs is to implement an efficient plan for doctor visits. Prior to each appointment, it’s important to take the time to prepare a list of questions to ask the physician and make note of any concerns you or the older adult would like to share. These tips can help ensure you’re prepared:
Information to Cover at Each Doctor’s Appointment
- Medication concerns. Maintain an ongoing log to track the effectiveness of the person’s medications, along with any possible side effects. Take note of any surrounding circumstances that may be significant. As an example, document if the senior took a medication before breakfast and felt nauseated, but was okay the next day when taking it with a full stomach. Don’t forget to detail positive effects too, such as how much the senior’s appetite has increased since starting a medication, or how much better they have been sleeping. Of course, record any reactions that cause concern and report those to the doctor right away rather than waiting for the next scheduled appointment.
- Care priorities. Talk with the senior about the outcomes they hope to accomplish with treatment, taking into account their comfort, health needs, and lifestyle. For example, the senior may highlight pain management as a top priority, or they could want to avoid pain medications in favor of a more holistic approach. They might desire to keep up with the active lifestyle they are used to without feeling tired from a particular kind of treatment. All of these types of decisions are essential to share with the doctor.
- Advantages vs. disadvantages. Ask the physician to explain what the possible pros and cons are for every suggested treatment. This will let the senior carefully consider whether or not the advantages will outweigh the risks. If there are any concerns, find out if additional options are available. It could be that a less aggressive approach to care is available with fewer risks.
- Clarification and confirmation. Take notes throughout the appointment about what the physician says. At the conclusion of the appointment, repeat back to the physician a summary of what you’ve recorded to make sure everything has been documented correctly. Do not be afraid to bring up additional questions that arise as well. It is vitally important to take the time needed to make certain you’re clear on next steps and that existing and new treatments do not interfere with the other chronic health conditions a loved one is managing.
Caring for older parents with multiple chronic health problems can be stressful, but you don’t have to go it alone. Grace Home Care’s care providers are available to accompany seniors to doctor visits, procedures, tests, and more, to help guarantee all details are understood and followed. Give us a call at 785-286-2273 to learn more about how our in-home care services in Topeka can help a senior with multiple health conditions live a healthier, safer, and more comfortable life at home.