When caring for an older relative, it is always a balancing act. You need to provide as much help and support as you can without overstepping the boundaries that preserve a senior’s self-esteem and personal independence. It is particularly true when making critical health care decisions.
There are a number of disagreements that can emerge around medical care for an older family member. For instance:
- The older adult might want to withhold information from the physician or minimize unpleasant symptoms.
- You may feel strongly about one course of treatment while the senior favors another.
- Your loved one may feel embarrassed going over sensitive information with the doctor that you believe must be discussed.
When taking a senior loved one to the physician, achieving the best outcome for the person is pre-planning. Think through these key concerns before, during, and after the next doctor’s appointment:
Ahead of the Appointment
- Plan the appointment for a time when both you and your loved one are most present and energized. If either of you feels exhausted late in the afternoon, for instance, schedule morning appointments.
- Identify the issues that you think ought to be discussed with the doctor. Arrive at an agreement about what is most comfortable for the senior when it comes to this information. For example, the person might prefer you to be with them during the doctor visit to advocate and summarize concerns, but may want you to leave the room when it is time for the actual medical exam, coming back afterwards to take notes regarding the doctor’s recommendations.
- In the event that the individual refuses to address something you deem to be significant, such as cognitive problems or the need to consider giving up the car keys, request a call with the physician before the visit to let them know your concerns.
During the Appointment
- When possible, have the senior answer the doctor’s questions on their own. However, be ready to jump in when needed, or to talk about additional details the person may have forgotten.
- 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 what they would like to do next.
- Ask the doctor to demonstrate any tasks you will have to help 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 concerns do they have? What went well? Review the doctor’s recommendations together so 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 right away to get the information you need.
- If you find yourselves at an impasse regarding a significant medical decision, or are dealing with continuing conflict with one another, talk with the doctor about this as well. It’s also a great idea to contact a family counselor or any other trusted, unbiased professional who can help you work through your differences in a healthy way.
For further information on how to ensure that the next doctor’s visit goes smoothly and all of the doctor’s recommendations are clearly understood and followed, get in touch with Inspired Home Care, a provider of elderly care in Barrington, IL and the surrounding communities. Our home care experts can provide transportation and accompaniment to appointments, provide medication reminders, pick up prescriptions, and more. Call us at 847-787-7572 to learn more!