If you’re a family caregiver and feeling overwhelmed with juggling appointments with various physician , trips to the drugstore, lab work, managing medications and treatments and special dietary needs for an older individual you love, you are not alone! Managing senior health issues like diabetes, heart disease, COPD, and arthritis can feel like a fulltime job,– especially if a loved one is battling a variety of issues concurrently.
When multiple physicians are involved, there is an increased potential for conflicting treatments and negative medication side effects. For family caregivers, it can be challenging to help an older loved one keep up with the many tasks involved in dealing with managing multiple health conditions and several physicians.
One crucial step to take to stay on top of a senior’s various healthcare needs is to develop a streamlined process for doctor visits. Before 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 loved one want to talk about. These pointers can help ensure you are prepared:
Information to Cover at Each Doctor’s Appointment
- Medication concerns. Maintain a journal to track the effectiveness of the person’s medications, along with any possible side effects. Note any surrounding circumstances that could be significant. For instance, record if the senior took a medication before breakfast and felt nauseated, but felt fine the following day when taking it with a full stomach. Don’t forget to record positive effects too, like how much the person’s appetite has increased since beginning a medication, or how much better they have been sleeping. And naturally, report any negative reactions to the physician right away as opposed to waiting until the next scheduled visit.
- Care priorities. Talk with the senior about the results they hope to accomplish with treatment, taking into account their comfort, health needs, and lifestyle. For example, the senior may make pain management a number one priority, or they may desire to avoid pain medications in favor of a more holistic approach. They might want to preserve the active lifestyle they’re used to without feeling tired from a specific kind of treatment. All of these types of decisions are crucial to share with the doctor.
- Benefits vs. risks. Ask the physician to explain what the possible advantages and disadvantages are for each proposed treatment. This can allow the senior to thoughtfully consider whether the benefits will outweigh the potential risks. If there are any concerns, find out if additional options are available. It might be that a less aggressive approach to care is available with fewer risks.
- Clarification and confirmation. Take notes throughout the appointment on what the doctor says. At the end of the appointment, repeat back to the doctor a synopsis of what you have written to make sure everything is accurately documented. Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions that come up as well. It is important to take the time needed to make certain 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.
Live Free Home Health Care’s experts in home care in Concord, NH and the surrounding areas are available to accompany seniors to medical appointments, procedures, tests, and much more, to help confirm that all instructions are understood and followed. Contact us at 603-217-0149 to learn more about how our in-home care services can help a senior with multiple chronic health issues live a healthier, safer, and more comfortable life at home.