Have you ever had to take someone to the doctor? Are you their caregiver and responsible for keeping different doctors coordinated? I accompany my mom to most of her appointments – which include her doctors’ visits. I have happily taken on the role of “point of contact” for my mother with her entire health care team.
I’m blessed to be able to help my mom and so grateful to God for placing us 10+ years ago in a house across the street from my childhood home! We’re available to her at any time, day or night. Most days I just pop over to take out the garbage, fix a light bulb, or other odds and ends she needs done. She has physical limitations due to a genetic and chronic back issue which inflicts constant pain. Luckily, her mental state is good. She loves to read and is involved in a Bible study group, and you can often find her browsing Facebook. 🙂
Being a caregiver for a loved one can be challenging both emotionally and physically. As Mom’s primary caregiver (family & friends also help), I’ve tried to educate myself on different aspects that are included in that role. My caregiving duties are EASY compared to situations that others face! Caregiving.com is a wonderful website community full of information and forums related specifically to caregiving – from aging parents to spouses to children and grandchildren. It’s nice to know you’re not alone with the challenges you may be facing.
We’ve taken care of the “big picture” stuff such as Healthcare Power of Attorney and other estate planning paperwork (see related article: Caregiver’s Checklist), but how do we prepare for the specific – like doctor’s appointments?
Following is a list of suggestions that we have created from our experiences.
Before the appointment:
1. Create or update the list of medications and include anything else that is taken, such as supplements, vitamins, or other aids (like Milk of Magnesia).
2. Discuss and strategize the goals of the meeting with the physician. These might include: review the diagnoses, analysis of any test results, predictable problems with diagnoses, information about medication side effects, any new symptoms or concerns, or merely to ask questions about general health and lifestyle issues.
At the appointment:
3. Ask questions and discuss the list of items created prior to the appointment. If something is not understood, keep asking questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share opinions.
4. Talk about treatment goals. Make sure to understand all treatment options, as well as the risks and benefits of each.
5. At the end of the appointment, ask the doctor to recap the most important points. Write them down. Note any changes made or any follow-up steps needed, like scheduling the next appointment or having tests done.
6. Request additional information such as written instructions or educational materials. Often there are brochures available or a website that will further explain what may be needed in the future.
7. Get input on practical homecare issues. Professional guidance on homecare safety can be a tremendous help. See related article: Stay Independent with Daily Living Aids
After the appointment:
8. Discuss and compare notes after the medical appointment to see if each is satisfied with how the visit went and if any home changes need to be made.
9. Update any records with test results or changes to medications or care plans. Keep a personal health record so care can be coordinated between doctors and information is accessible in an emergency.
Bottom line, it’s all about communication – between the caregiver and aging adult, between the aging adult and doctor, and between the doctor and caregiver. Mom and I have found that by keeping communication open, our working relationship has improved with each other – and with the physicians.