Things to Discuss With Your Elderly Loved One’s Doctor

Write questions, take notes during visit.
One of the challenges of care giving can be accompanying your elderly loved one, to the doctor. It can be difficult to remember the information from a doctor’s visit and ask the right questions, however, caregivers are often frustrated to find that the senior in their care, does not ask questions, blindly accepts everything the doctor says, and returns home often with little memory of what actually transpired. Many of today’s elderly, are often intimidated by their doctor, and do not offer the information they may need to, and even more often will not question what the doctor says. It then falls to the caregiver, to shed some light on the medical situation.
Here is an overview of how, and what to discuss with your elderly loved one’s doctor-
  • Be prepared-You should keep in mind that most doctor’s appointments, generally last about 15 minutes. That is not enough time, but you simply have to make the best of it. Having a written list of questions, and concerns (from both you and your loved one), can help facilitate accomplishing more. However, you should keep in mind that a lengthy list, no matter how valid, may not get completely discussed. Focus on the major problems or concerns, and then if you need to schedule follow-up visits, or phone consultations.
  • Know the medications-You should have a complete list of all medications, including dosages. This list should also have any vitamins, or other supplements that your senior may be taking. This way the doctor can determine if there is a potential for any drug interaction. You should also be aware if your elderly loved one is experiencing any side effects from the medications, and you should make sure that both of you know how the medication is to be taken. This can include: time of day, with or without food, and how much should be taken. Accidental over and under dosing is common among seniors.
  • Understand the health history-You should be able to review your family health history, especially any history of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's and cancer. The senior’s physician should be aware of any additional risk that your elderly loved one could be facing. In addition, the doctor should be questioned about any recommendations for specific screening tests. You should also ask if the senior is up to date on all routine exams and vaccinations.
  • Note any changes-You should also be prepared with any questions or concerns about changes in weight, behavior, sleep patterns, or anything else that is concerning. The elderly are at high risk for depression, and these changes can signal a problem. It is also important to make sure that the patient’s concerns and voice is heard during these discussions. Respect, consideration, and dignity should be given to whatever the patient says. The caregiver should only act as a facilitator of information.
  • Have a plan-Before leaving the doctor’s office, it is crucial to have a written plan of what was discussed, any changes that are recommended, and what the follow-up should be. Briefly summarizing the visit can make sure that everyone is on the same page. If there is anything that is not clearly understood by the patient or caregiver, now is the time to raise questions that will clarify the issues.
As a final note-while specific questions should be addressed by your elderly loved one’s doctor,  many caregivers often have general questions that need to be answered. For these type of questions, and help, you can click on and get information from a Board Certified Physician Assistant, and Mayo Clinic trained nutritionist.

About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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