senior man reviewing medications

If you’re a family caregiver and feeling overwhelmed with juggling appointments with various physicians, trips to the drugstore, lab work, managing medications and treatments and special dietary needs for a senior you love, you’re not alone! Chronic health problems like arthritis, COPD, diabetes, and heart disease impact many older people – and oftentimes, they’re struggling with as many as three or more conditions at one time.

For family caregivers, controlling chronic health problems in an older loved one can be challenging.  When multiple physicians are involved, there is an increased potential for conflicting treatments and negative medication side effects.

One important step to take to stay on top of a senior’s various health care needs is by implementing a structured plan for doctor visits. Prior to each appointment, it is important to take the time to prepare a list of questions to ask the physician and make note of any  issues you and the older adult want to share. These tips will help ensure you are prepared:

Information to Cover at Each Doctor’s Appointment

  1. Concerns about medications. Maintain an ongoing log to track the effectiveness of the senior’s medications, along with any possible side effects. Take note of any surrounding circumstances that may be significant. As an example, document if the person took a medication before breakfast and felt nauseated, but felt better the next day when taking it with a full stomach. Make sure to include positive effects as well, like how much the person’s appetite has increased since beginning a medication, or how much better they’ve been sleeping. And of course, document any negative reactions that cause concern and report those to the physician immediately instead of waiting until the next scheduled appointment.
  2. Care priorities. Consult with the senior about the results they hope to achieve with treatment, bearing in mind their comfort, health needs, and lifestyle. For instance, the senior may place pain management as a top priority, or they may prefer to stay clear of pain medications in favor of a more holistic approach. They might want to retain the active lifestyle they are accustomed to without feeling sluggish from a certain type of medication. All of these kinds of decisions are essential to share with the doctor.
  3. Pros and cons. Ask the physician to clarify what the potential pros and cons are for every recommended treatment. This will allow the senior to consider whether the benefits will outweigh the risks. If there are any concerns, find out if other options are available. It could be that a less aggressive approach to care is available with fewer risks.
  4. Clarification and confirmation. Take notes throughout the appointment about what the doctor says. At the end of the appointment, repeat back to the physician a synopsis of what you have written to make sure everything is documented properly. Do not be afraid to ask any additional questions that come up 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 conditions a loved one is managing.

Morning Glory Home Care’s Alton senior care experts are available to escort seniors to medical appointments, procedures, tests, and more, to help ensure all instructions are understood and followed. Call us at 618-667-8400 to learn more about how our home care services in Alton, IL and the surrounding areas can help a senior with multiple health problems live a healthier, safer, and more comfortable life at home. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.