doctor talking with senior lady and daughter

When caring for an older family member, balance is key. Your goal is to offer as much care and support as you can without overstepping the boundaries that protect a senior’s self-esteem and individual independence. It is particularly true in relation to accompanying an older loved one to the doctor and making important health care decisions.

There are a number of disagreements that can arise in regards to  a senior loved one’s health. For instance:

  • The older adult may choose to withhold information from the physician or minimize worrying symptoms.
  • It’s possible you’ll prefer one treatment even though the senior prefers another.
  • The senior may feel embarrassed talking about sensitive information with the doctor that you feel should be discussed.

The key to achieving the best outcome for the person is preparation. Think through these key considerations before, during, and after the next doctor’s appointment:

Prior to the Appointment

  • Set up the appointment for a time when both you and the senior are most alert and energized. If you or your loved one feels worn out in the late afternoon, for example, schedule morning appointments.
  • Identify the concerns that you feel should be discussed with the doctor. Come to an understanding about what is most comfortable for the senior with regards to these topics. For instance, the person might prefer you to be with them during the doctor visit to advocate and clarify concerns, but may want you to leave the room for the actual medical exam, returning afterwards to take notes regarding the doctor’s recommendations.
  • In the event that the person will not address something you consider to be significant, for instance cognitive problems or the need to consider giving up the car keys, request a call with the doctor before the visit to let them know your concerns.

During the Visit

  • When possible, have the senior answer the doctor’s questions independently. However, be prepared to jump in when needed, or to discuss additional details the person may have excluded.
  • Advocate for the senior by asking additional questions to clarify the information being provided, especially if the doctor is asking your loved one to make a decision about next steps.
  • Ask for a demonstration of any tasks the doctor is asking you to help with, such as cleaning and redressing a wound, and inquire about any information specific to the senior’s particular health condition(s).

After the Appointment

  • Talk to the senior on the ride home about what they thought about the appointment. What went well? What concerns do they have? Review the doctor’s recommendations together so you both understand the next steps.
  • If you come up with any additional questions 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 experiencing continuing conflict with one another, consult with the doctor about this as well. It’s also a great idea to contact a family counselor or another trusted, unbiased professional who is able to help you work through your differences in a healthy way.

For more strategies to make sure the next doctor’s visit goes smoothly and all of the doctor’s suggestions are clearly understood and followed, get in touch with Abby Senior Care, a trusted provider of home care in Highlands Ranch, CO and the surrounding communities. Our senior care experts can provide transportation and accompaniment to appointments, provide medication reminders, pick up prescriptions, and a lot more. Give us a call at 303-699-8840 to find out all the ways we can help!