How to Select a Physician for a Senior Loved One | Five Star Senior Living

How to Select a Physician for a Senior Loved One

  • August 19, 2016

Are you looking for a doctor for a senior loved one?

If your senior loved one recently moved in with you or moved from a large house to a smaller place, he or she may be looking for a new physician closer to their new address.

A medical diagnosis—such as cancer, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s—may require a specialist. Seniors sometimes need a geriatric specialist to help them cope with the symptoms of aging, too.
Here are a few suggestions to help you get your search started.

7 Steps for Choosing a Senior-Friendly Physician

1. Call Medicare or their supplementary insurance provider

Start looking for a physician by narrowing your choices based on insurance coverage. Look online or call Medicare or your loved one’s secondary insurance provider for a list of physicians covered. 

2. Ask friends and family

Word-of-mouth is your ally in the hunt for a physician. Ask friends and family or visit online caregiver forums to ask other families for advice about doctors who specialize in senior care, Alzheimer’s, or other illnesses.

If you are looking for a cardiologist, oncologist, or other specialist, you might be lucky enough to find one who specializes in treating older patients.

Board-certified specialists have undergone additional training in specific areas.

3. Read reviews

Online reviews and physician ratings can reveal a lot about the quality-of-care a physician provides. Find a doctor—or team of physicians—who have successfully and compassionately treated patients with similar health challenges as your senior loved one.

4. Look for a doctor nearby

While location is important, choosing a quality doctor should be the top concern. Don’t let the difference of a few miles deter you from choosing the best doctor for your aging loved one, but do make sure the office is conveniently located.

Assess parking and handicap access, too. These aspects of a doctor’s office can make a routine visit a big hassle or a pleasant experience.

Also, find out what hospital the doctor affiliates with. The hospital’s location—where your loved one would go in the event of an emergency—may be as important as the office location.

Similarly, find out if lab work and x-rays can be done in-office. If not, where is the nearest lab facility and is it convenient to reach?

5. Ask about in-home options

Is your loved one homebound? Is travel a challenge? Ask the prospective doctor about in-home visits and home care options. Some physicians can send a home health nurse to the house for routine bloodwork, vital sign assessments and other routine care, minimizing in-office visits.

6. Determine office hours

Do the doctor’s hours fit with your schedule? What are the busiest times? A group practice, with multiple doctors on staff, may fit your needs better with expanded hours and the benefit of a team of experts with similar philosophies.
7. Schedule a visit

Have you found a physician who looks great “on paper?”

Once you find a practice fulfills all your requirements with a convenient office location, positive reviews, and hours that fit your schedule, call for a consultation.

You’ve done the legwork. But what ultimately matters is how your loved one feels about the doctor and the office staff. Only an office visit will tell you if you’ve found the best physician for the senior in your life.

Want more tips on senior health and wellness? Five Star Senior Living provides a wealth of resources to help you care for your aging loved one.

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