If you are a family caregiver and your days seem overloaded with caring for multiple health issues in seniors, from keeping up with appointments with various doctors managing medicines and special dietary needs, you are not alone! Long-term health issues like COPD, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis affect many older adults – and often, they are dealing with up to three if not more conditions at the same time.
When several physicians are involved, there is an increased 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 conditions and a number of healthcare providers.
One important step to take to help stay on top of a senior’s various medical care needs is to develop an efficient plan for doctor visits. Prior to each appointment, it is important to take the time to prepare a list of questions to ask the physician and make note of any issues you and the older adult need to talk about. These tips from our experts in home care in Shawnee, KS and nearby areas can help ensure you are prepared:
Information to Cover at Each Doctor’s Appointment
- Medication concerns. Keep an ongoing log to track the efficacy of the senior’s medications, alongside any potential side effects. Note any surrounding circumstances which may be important. As an example, document if the senior took a medication before eating and felt nauseated, but felt fine the following day when taking it with a full stomach. Don’t forget to include positive effects as well, such as how much the person’s appetite has improved since beginning a medication, or how much better they’ve been sleeping. And naturally, record any negative side effects and report those to the physician right away as opposed to waiting for the next scheduled visit.
- Care priorities. Consult with the senior about the goals they hope to accomplish with treatment, bearing in mind their health needs, lifestyle, and comfort. For example, the senior may place pain management as a high priority, or they may wish to abstain from pain medications in favor of a more natural approach. They might desire to keep up with the active lifestyle they’re used to without feeling tired from a particular type of medication. All of these types of decisions are essential to share with the doctor.
- Pros and cons. Ask the physician to explain what the possible positives and negatives are for every proposed treatment. This can let the senior thoughtfully consider if the benefits will outweigh the risks. If there are any concerns, find out if additional options are available. It may be that a less aggressive approach to care is available with fewer risks.
- Clarification and confirmation. Take notes throughout the appointment about what the doctor says. At the end of the appointment, repeat back to the physician a recap of what you’ve written to make sure everything is correctly recorded. Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions that emerge as well. It is important to take the time needed to ensure that the next steps are clear and that any new or existing treatments do not interfere with the other chronic health conditions a loved one is managing.
Hearts at Home In-Home Care’s experts in home care in Shawnee, KS and the nearby areas are available to accompany seniors to doctor visits, procedures, tests, and more, to help ensure all details are understood and followed. Reach out to us at 913-440-4209 for more information on how our home care services can help a senior with multiple chronic health issues live a healthier, safer, and more comfortable life at home.