If you are a family caregiver and your days seem overloaded with juggling appointments with different physicians, trips to the drugstore, lab work, managing medicines and special dietary needs for an older person you love, you are not alone! Chronic health issues like arthritis, COPD, diabetes, and heart disease afflict many people age 60 and over – and quite often, they’re struggling with up to three or even more ailments simultaneously.
When multiple doctors are involved, there is an increased potential for negative medication side effects and conflicting treatment plans. For family caregivers, it may be extremely difficult to help an older loved one manage all of the tasks associated in dealing with chronic health conditions and multiple healthcare providers.
One essential step to take to stay on top of a senior’s various health needs is by following a structured process for doctor visits. Before each visit, take the time to prepare a list of questions to ask the doctor and make note of any issues you and the older adult would like to discuss. These tips from our experts in home care in Towson, MD and the nearby areas can help ensure you are prepared:
Information to Cover at Each Doctor’s Appointment
- Concerns about medications. Keep an updated log to track the efficacy of the senior’s medications, alongside any possible side effects. Take note of any surrounding circumstances that could be important. For example, record if the senior took a medication before eating and felt queasy, but was okay the next day when taking it on a full stomach. Be sure to note positive effects as well, such as how much the senior’s appetite has increased since starting a medication, or how much better they are sleeping. Of course, report any negative side effects to the doctor right away instead of waiting until the next scheduled appointment.
- Care priorities. Talk with the senior about the outcomes they hope to achieve with treatment, taking into consideration their comfort, health needs, and lifestyle. For example, the senior may highlight pain management as a number one priority, or they might wish to stay clear of pain medications in favor of a more natural approach. They may wish to retain the active lifestyle they are used to without feeling lethargic from a specific kind of treatment. All of these types of decisions are essential to share with the doctor.
- Benefits vs. risks. Ask the doctor to explain what the potential positives and negatives are for each recommended treatment. This can enable the senior to carefully consider whether or not the benefits will outweigh the potential risks. If there are any concerns, find out if other choices are available. It could be that a less aggressive approach to care is available with fewer risks.
- Clarification and confirmation. Make notes during the appointment about what the doctor says. At the end of the appointment, repeat back to the doctor a summary of what you have recorded to make sure you have documented everything correctly. Do not be afraid to ask additional questions that arise as well. It is important to take the time needed to make sure the next steps are clear and that any new or existing treatments do not interfere with the other chronic health issues a loved one is managing.
Absolute Companion Care’s experts in home care in Towson, MD and the surrounding areas are available to accompany seniors to medical appointments, procedures, tests, and much more, to help make sure all details are understood and followed. Call us at 410-357-9640 to learn more about how our senior care services can help an older adult with multiple health conditions live a healthier, safer, and more comfortable life in the home.