Many seniors avoid personal communication with their healthcare providers, or may tend to only share positive things. Some seniors think that some topics are not worth conversing over; others may not remember to mention particularly concerning issues due to memory loss. In such situations, a doctor may be unable to fully assist his elderly patient because of limited information about their health status. It is essential to talk to your elderly family member about their health care visits; however, it is also important to make them feel as comfortable as possible while discussing such sensitive matters.
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Be More Organized for the Visit
Each patient is given a limited amount of time to spend with their health care provider. There is a huge possibility that your elderly loved one may be unable to discuss all of the topics that they were hoping to discuss with the doctor in one visit. A way to make sure that your family member is able to share their concerns during a doctor’s visit is to organize a list. This way, the doctor will better be able to manage the session, and all the important issues will be discussed rather than forgotten.
If visiting for the first time, list all prior and current medical conditions such as surgery, hospitalization, diabetes, heart condition, high blood pressure, or cancer. Bring a list of all medications and dosing schedules. Include all over the counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements on that list. Getting the help of a senior healthcare agency is a good option. A personal support worker from a home care agency can escort your ageing loved one to their doctor’s visits with the list of concerns in hand, and can provide the needed support that a busy family member would normally provide when escorting a senior to the doctor.
Contact the Senior Health Care Provider to Raise Awareness
One way to ensure a senior is not missing anything during the short sessions with a healthcare practitioner is to contact the medical professional ahead of time to talk about the matters of concern. Such a discussion will urge the doctor to probe further when discussing certain topics in person, which will encourage your loved one to provide as many details as possible about their concerns. It is also important to ensure that the patient does not feel as if an issue is not important enough to be discussed.
Pay attention to the senior’s symptoms. Note the location, duration, and character of any discomfort. What brings on the symptoms? What makes them worse? Does anything relieve them?
Even something like regular neck pains or headaches should not be overlooked as minor concerns. If such concerns are ignored at the onset, your elderly loved one could later be diagnosed with a serious condition that may further deteriorate their health.
Join In on the Health Care Sessions to Ensure All Topics are Covered
There are many benefits to having a companion sit in on a senior’s visit to the doctor. However, it is recommended to ask your loved one before joining in on their medical visits, so as to respect their rights to privacy and confidentiality. If permitted, you can assist them with recalling and expressing their medical concerns, and taking note of the health care practitioner’s feedback and recommendations.
Your role as a family caregiver may be that of a clarifier, interpreter, recorder, or all of the above! Remember though that during the shared session, it is important to ensure that the conversation stays focused — do not be tempted to shift the focus to something that is related more to yourself than to the patient who is being seen. Talking about yourself will expend the limited time that your family member is provided with because doctor's visits are often brief.