When taking care of an older relative, there’s always a fine line to walk. You need to provide as much care and support as you possibly can while not crossing the boundaries that safeguard a senior’s self-esteem and individual independence. It is especially true with regards to doctor’s appointments and making critical medical care decisions.
There are a number of disputes which can arise in regards to a senior loved one’s health. For example:
- The person may wish to withhold information from the doctor or understate troubling symptoms.
- It’s possible you’ll prefer one treatment options even though the senior prefers another.
- The senior may feel self-conscious discussing sensitive information with the doctor that you think ought to be discussed.
The key to achieving the best outcome for the person is pre-planning. Think through these important considerations before, during, and after the next doctor’s appointment:
Ahead of the Appointment
- Set the appointment for a time when both you and the senior are most alert and energized. If you or your loved one feels tired late in the afternoon, for example, schedule morning appointments.
- Identify the issues that you feel ought to be discussed with the doctor. Arrive at an understanding about what is most comfortable for the senior with regards to this information. For instance, the person might want you in the exam room to advocate and summarize concerns, but may prefer you to leave the room for the actual medical exam, returning afterwards to take notes on the doctor’s recommendations.
- If the person refuses to address something that you consider to be significant, for example changes in cognition or a recent fall, request a call with the physician ahead of the visit to let them know your concerns.
During the Visit
- When possible, have the senior answer the doctor’s questions on their own. However, be ready to assist when needed, or to share additional details the person could have left out.
- Advocate for the senior by asking further questions to make sure they are clear about the information being provided, specifically if the doctor is asking your loved one to make a decision about next steps.
- Ask the doctor to demonstrate any tasks you will have to assist with, such as cleaning and redressing a wound, and inquire about any information specific to the senior’s particular health condition(s).
After the Appointment
- Talk to the senior on the drive home about what they thought about the appointment. What went well? What concerns do they have? Study the doctor’s recommendations together so that you both know the next steps.
- If there are additional questions that arise 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 unable to make a decision about a critical medical decision, or are dealing with 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, unbiased professional who can help you sort out 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 suggestions are clearly understood and followed, contact Absolute Companion Care, a trusted provider of home care and Alzheimer’s care in Towson, MD and the surrounding areas. Our home care experts are here to help provide transportation and accompaniment to appointments, provide medication reminders, pick up prescriptions, and a lot more. Contact us at 410-357-9640 to find out more!