When caring for an older relative, balance is key. Your goal is to offer as much care and support as you can while not crossing the boundaries that protect a senior’s self-esteem and personal independence. It is particularly true when dealing with making crucial medical care decisions.
There are a variety of conflicts that can arise in regards to an aging family member’s health. For instance:
- The person may want to keep information from the doctor or understate unpleasant symptoms.
- You may prefer one course of treatment while the senior prefers another.
- Your loved one may feel uncomfortable talking about sensitive information with the doctor that you believe needs to be discussed.
The secret to achieving the best outcome for the person is pre-planning. Think through these senior doctor visit tips before, during, and after a loved one’s next appointment:
Before the Appointment
- Set the appointment at a time when both you and the senior are most alert and energized. If you or your loved one feels fatigued in the late afternoon, for example, stick to morning appointments.
- Identify the concerns that you believe need to be discussed with the doctor. Arrive at an understanding about what is most comfortable for the senior when it comes to these issues. For instance, the individual may want you to be with them during the doctor visit to advocate and summarize concerns, but may prefer you to leave the room when it is time for the actual medical exam, returning afterwards to take notes on the doctor’s recommendations.
- In the event that the senior does not want to address something that you consider to be significant, for example cognitive problems or the need to consider giving up the car keys, request a call with the doctor before the appointment to let them know your concerns.
During the Appointment
- When at all possible, let the senior answer the doctor’s questions on their own. However, be prepared to assist when needed, or to bring up additional details the individual may have excluded.
- Advocate for the senior by asking additional questions to clarify the information being provided, particularly if the doctor is asking the senior to make a decision about how to proceed.
- Ask for a demonstration of any tasks the doctor is asking you to assist with, such as cleaning and redressing a wound, and inquire about any information unique to the person’s particular health condition(s).
After the Appointment
- Chat with the senior on the ride home about what they thought about the appointment. What went well? What concerns do they have? Review the doctor’s recommendations together so that you both know the next steps.
- If you have any other questions or there are questions you forgot to inquire about during the appointment, call the office as soon as possible to get the information you need.
- If you find yourselves at an impasse regarding a significant medical decision, or are encountering continuing conflict with one another, consult with the doctor about this as well. It’s also a smart idea to contact a family counselor or any other trusted, unbiased professional who is able to help you sort out your differences in a healthy way.
For more tips to make sure the next doctor’s visit goes smoothly and all of the doctor’s recommendations are clearly understood and followed, contact Grace Home Care, a trusted provider of senior care in Topeka, KS. Our aging care experts are here to help provide transportation and accompaniment, pick up prescriptions, provide medication reminders, and much more. Reach out to us at 785-286-2273 for more information!