If you are a family member helping an older loved one and your days seem overloaded with juggling appointments with different doctors, trips to the drugstore, lab work, and managing medications and special dietary needs, you are certainly not alone! Chronic health issues like COPD, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis affect many people age 60 and over – and often, they’re dealing with three or more conditions at the same time.
When multiple physicians are involved, there is the potential for conflicting treatments and negative medication side effects. For family members, it can be challenging to help an older loved one manage all the tasks involved in dealing with multiple chronic health issues and several healthcare providers.
One crucial step to take to stay on top of a loved one’s various health care needs is to develop a streamlined process 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 concerns you and the older adult would like to share. These pointers from our experts in home care for seniors in Denver and the nearby areas will help to ensure you’re prepared:
Information to Cover at Each Doctor’s Appointment
- Concerns about medications. Keep an updated log to track the effectiveness of the person’s medications, alongside any potential side effects. Note any surrounding circumstances that could be important. For instance, record if the person took a medication before eating and felt nauseated, but was okay the next day when taking it on a full stomach. Don’t forget to include positive effects too, like how much the individual’s appetite has increased since beginning a medication, or how much better they’ve been sleeping. And naturally, record any negative side effects that cause concern and report those to the physician immediately rather than waiting until the next scheduled visit.
- Care priorities. Talk with the older loved one about the results they expect to attain with treatment, taking into account their comfort, health needs, and lifestyle. For example, they may place pain management as a number one priority, or they may want to avoid pain medications in favor of a more natural approach. They may desire to retain the active lifestyle they’re used to without feeling sluggish from a certain type of medication. All of these decisions are crucial to share with the doctor.
- Pros and cons. Ask the physician to clarify what the possible positives and negatives are for each recommended treatment. This will allow the older adult to carefully consider whether or not the advantages 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.
- Clarification and confirmation. Take notes throughout the appointment on what the physician says. At the end of the visit, repeat back to the physician a synopsis of what you’ve recorded to make sure everything is properly documented. Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions that emerge as well. It is very 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.
Abby Senior Care’s experts in home care for seniors in Denver and the surrounding communities are available to accompany older adults to medical appointments, procedures, tests, and more, to help ensure all directions are understood and followed. Call us at 303-699-8840 to learn more about how our home care services can help a senior with multiple health issues live a healthier, safer, and more comfortable life in the home.