If you are a family caregiver and your days seem overloaded with balancing appointments with various physicians, trips to the drugstore, lab work, managing medications and special nutritional needs for an older individual you love, you are certainly not alone! Chronic health conditions like arthritis, COPD, diabetes, and heart disease affect many older adults – and frequently, they’re struggling with up to three or more conditions at the same time.
When multiple doctors are involved, there is an increased potential for conflicting treatments and negative medication side effects. For family caregivers, it can be quite challenging to help an older loved one manage all of the tasks connected with dealing with chronic health issues in aging loved ones and multiple healthcare providers.
One important step to take to stay on top of an older adult’s various health needs is to develop a structured plan for doctor visits. Before each appointment, it’s important to take time to prepare a list of questions to ask the doctor and make note of any concerns you and the older adult would like to talk about. These pointers from our experts in senior care in Oakville, MO and the nearby areas can help ensure you’re prepared and make the most of the time with the doctor:
Information to Cover at Each Doctor’s Appointment
- Medication concerns. Maintain a log to track the efficacy of the person’s medications, along with any potential side effects. Record any surrounding circumstances that may be important. As an example, note if the person took a medication before breakfast and felt nauseated, but felt fine the following day when taking it with food. Don’t forget to include notes about positive effects as well, such as how much the individual’s appetite has increased since beginning a medication, or how much better they’ve been sleeping. And of course, report any side effects right away rather than waiting until the next scheduled visit.
- Care priorities. Talk to the older adult about the results they want to achieve with treatment, bearing in mind their comfort, health needs, and lifestyle. For instance, the older adult may place pain management as a high priority, or they might prefer to avoid pain medications in favor of a more natural approach. They may want to preserve the active lifestyle they are used to without feeling sluggish from a particular type of treatment. All of these types of decisions are important to share with the doctor.
- Pros and cons. Ask the doctor to explain what the possible pros and cons are for each recommended treatment. This can enable the older adult to thoughtfully consider whether or not the advantages will outweigh the risks. If there are any concerns, ask if other choices are available. It may be that a less aggressive approach to care is available with fewer risks.
- Clarification and confirmation. Take notes during the appointment about what the doctor says. At the conclusion of the visit, repeat back to the doctor a summary of what you have written to make certain everything is properly understood. Don’t be afraid to ask any extra questions that arise 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 other chronic health conditions a loved one is managing.
Compassionate Nursing Services’ experts in senior care in Oakville, MO and the surrounding communities are available to accompany older adults to doctor visits, procedures, tests, and much more, to help ensure all directions are understood and followed. Reach out to us at 314-432-4312 to learn more about how our home care services can help an older loved one with multiple health conditions live a healthier, safer, and more comfortable life at home.