For family caregivers, balance is key. Supporting an older loved one as much as you possibly can while not crossing the boundaries that protect a senior’s self-image and personal independence is the goal. This is particularly the case when making essential medical care decisions.
There are a number of disagreements that can emerge in regards to medical care for a senior loved one. For example:
- The person may choose to hold back information from the doctor or understate worrying symptoms.
- You might prefer one course of treatment while the senior prefers another.
- The senior may feel self-conscious talking about sensitive information with the doctor that you believe ought to be shared.
The secret to supporting an older loved one at the doctor and achieving the best outcome for the person is pre-planning. Think through these key considerations before, during, and after the next doctor’s visit:
Before the Appointment
- Schedule the appointment at a time when both you and your loved one are most present and energized. If either of you feels worn out late in the afternoon, for example, stick to morning appointments.
- Identify the problems that you believe need to be discussed with the doctor. Arrive at an agreement about what is most comfortable for the senior regarding these topics. For instance, the individual may want you in the exam room to advocate and summarize concerns, but may prefer you to leave the room when it is time for the actual medical exam, coming back afterwards to take notes on the doctor’s recommendations.
- In the event that the senior will not address something you deem to be significant, such as changes in cognition or a recent fall, arrange for a call with the physician ahead of the appointment to let them know your concerns.
During the Appointment
- When possible, allow the senior to answer the doctor’s questions independently. However, be ready to assist when needed, or to discuss additional details the individual may have left out.
- Advocate for the senior by asking additional questions to make sure they are clear about the information being provided, particularly if the doctor is asking the senior to make a decision about next steps.
- Ask for a demonstration of any tasks the doctor is asking you to assist with, for instance cleaning and redressing a wound, and inquire about any resources 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? Go over the doctor’s recommendations together so 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 at an impasse regarding an important medical decision, or are dealing with continuing conflict with each other, consult with the physician about this as well. It is also a smart idea to contact a family counselor or another trusted, objective professional who can help you sort out your differences in a healthy way.
For additional information on how to ensure that the next doctor’s appointment goes smoothly and all of the doctor’s guidelines are clearly understood and followed, get in touch with Morning Glory Home Care, a provider of home care and memory care in Belleville, IL and nearby areas. Our aging care experts are here to help provide transportation and accompaniment to appointments, provide medication reminders, pick up prescriptions, and much more. Contact us at 618-667-8400 to learn more!