When caring for an older family member, it is always a balancing act. You want to supply as much help and support as you possibly can without overstepping the boundaries that preserve a senior’s self-esteem and personal independence. It is particularly true regarding making important medical care decisions.
There are a number of disagreements that can arise in regards to an older loved one’s health care. For example:
- The person may wish to withhold information from the doctor or understate unpleasant symptoms.
- It’s possible you’ll feel strongly about one course of treatment while the senior favors another.
- Your loved one may feel uncomfortable talking about sensitive information with the doctor that you think must be discussed.
The secret to achieving the best outcome for the person is preparation. Use these tips to plan for a doctor’s appointment with a senior loved one:
Prior to the Appointment
- Set the appointment at a time when both you and the senior are most present and energized. If you or your loved one feels fatigued late in the afternoon, for instance, schedule morning appointments.
- Identify the concerns that you believe should be discussed with the doctor. Arrive at an agreement about what is most comfortable for the senior when it comes to this information. For instance, the individual might want you to be with them during the doctor visit to advocate and clarify concerns, but may like you to leave the room when it comes to the actual health check, coming back afterwards to take notes regarding the doctor’s recommendations.
- If the senior will not address something that you consider to be important, like cognitive problems or the need to consider giving up the car keys, arrange for a call with the doctor ahead of the visit to let them know your concerns.
During the Visit
- When possible, let the senior answer the doctor’s questions independently. However, be prepared to jump in when needed, or to talk about additional details the individual could have missed.
- Advocate for the senior by asking additional questions to clarify the information being provided, specifically if the doctor is asking the person to make a decision about how to proceed.
- Ask for a demonstration of any tasks the doctor is asking you to help with, like cleaning and redressing a wound, and inquire about any information specific to the person’s particular health condition(s).
After the Appointment
- Talk to the senior on the ride home about what they thought about the appointment. What concerns do they have? What went well? Review the doctor’s recommendations together so you both know the next steps.
- If you come up with any additional questions or there are questions you forgot to ask during the appointment, call the office right away to get the information you need.
- If you find yourselves at an impasse regarding an important medical decision, or are experiencing continuing conflict with each other, talk to the physician about this as well. It is also a great idea to contact a family counselor or any other trusted, objective professional who is able to help you work through your differences in a healthy way.
For additional tips to ensure that the next doctor’s visit goes smoothly and all of the doctor’s guidelines are clearly understood and followed, contact Hearts at Home In-Home Care, a trusted provider of care for Alzheimer’s in Kansas City and the surrounding areas. Our in-home care experts are here to help provide transportation and accompaniment, pick up prescriptions, provide medication reminders, and much more. Call us at 913-440-4209 to learn more!