Communicating well with a senior loved one’s doctor is vital. Building a bond helps you trust their judgment if the older adult falls seriously ill. Unfortunately, families are sometimes reluctant or intimidated to ask questions and share concerns about a loved one’s condition. Important warning signs and symptoms may go overlooked.
If you are struggling with how to build a stronger relationship with an older family member’s physician, we have a few helpful tips.
Working Well with a Senior’s Physician
- Keep a journal: Our first suggestion for patients and families is to keep a symptom journal whether they live at home or in an assisted living community. Documenting a senior loved one’s symptoms and any concerns can help their primary care doctor identify potential problems. Behavior changes and new symptoms are vital. If possible, also track what they were doing and what they ate on days you noticed something was amiss. Sleep problems should also be documented.
- Prepare for the visit: Before each physician visit, take a few minutes to list ongoing symptoms and concerns. Write or type it neatly to make the information easy for the doctor to quickly review. Families are frequently concerned that their senior loved one’s physician always seems to be in a hurry. While most physicians are very busy, they usually want to be made aware of issues in time to prevent small health problems from becoming big ones.
- Maintain a medical file: Another important tool for family caregivers is a medical file. When a senior has a chronic or acute medical condition, they typically have more than one physician involved in their care. While electronic records make it easier for physicians to share information, it might be limited by their health care system. Obtain copies of all health screenings and test results, medications, allergies, and contact information for the professionals involved in their care. If you are comfortable with technology, apps like CareZone make it easier to organize a loved one’s health information and access it when you are on the go.
- Follow doctor’s orders: One last suggestion is to follow doctor’s orders. As obvious as that sounds, many patients fail to comply. Doctors get frustrated when a patient repeatedly shows up in their office or the hospital for the same issue, but they haven’t followed past directions. If you are having difficulty understanding what to do or the senior is having adverse reactions from a medication or part of a doctor’s order, let them know. They’ll more than likely be able to help by prescribing a different medication or offering clarification.
If you give it your best effort and still don’t feel confident that the doctor is a good fit, it may be time to explore other options. “How to Find a New Primary Care Doctor for a Senior Loved One” has some helpful tips you can use.