When caring for an older relative, there’s always a fine line to walk. You have to provide as much help and support as possible without overstepping the boundaries that preserve a senior’s self-esteem and personal independence. It is especially true when it comes to going to a doctor’s appointment with a senior and making crucial health care decisions.
There are a number of disputes that can emerge in regards to a senior loved one’s health. For example:
- The older adult may choose to keep information from the physician or understate troubling symptoms.
- You may feel strongly about one course of treatment even though the senior prefers another.
- Your loved one may feel self-conscious discussing sensitive information with the doctor that you feel ought to be shared.
The secret to obtaining the best outcome for the person is preparation. Think through these important considerations before, during, and after the next doctor’s visit:
Ahead of the Appointment
- Schedule the appointment at a time when both you and your loved one are most alert and energized. If you or your loved one feels fatigued in the late afternoon, for instance, schedule morning appointments.
- Talk about any 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 instance, the individual might prefer to have you in the exam room to advocate and describe 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 person does not want to address something that you consider to be significant, for example cognitive problems or the need to consider giving up the car keys, request a call with the doctor before the appointment to let them know your concerns.
During the Appointment
- When at all possible, allow the senior to answer the doctor’s questions on their own. However, be prepared to assist when needed, or to discuss additional details the person may have missed.
- Advocate for the senior by asking further questions to make sure they are clear about the information being provided, especially if the doctor is asking the senior to make a decision about next steps.
- Ask the doctor to demonstrate any tasks you will have to assist with, like cleaning and redressing a wound, and inquire about any information specific to the senior’s particular health condition(s).
After the Appointment
- Talk with the senior on the trip home about what they thought about the appointment. What went well? What concerns do they have? Go over the doctor’s recommendations together so that you both know what your next steps are.
- If you have any other 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 unable to make a decision about a significant medical decision or are experiencing continuing conflict with each other, talk with the physician about this as well. It is also a wise idea to contact a family counselor or another trusted, unbiased professional who can help you get through your differences in a healthy way.
For further information on how to ensure that the next doctor’s appointment with a senior loved one goes smoothly and all of the doctor’s guidelines are clearly understood and followed, contact At-Home Care Company’s experts in home care and respite care in Des Moines, IA and the surrounding areas. Our aging care experts can provide transportation and accompaniment to appointments, provide medication reminders, pick up prescriptions, and more. Contact us at 515-292-2650 to find out more!