Doctor talking with senior woman and her family caregiver

When caring for an older family member, there’s always a fine line to walk. You want to provide as much help and support that you can while not crossing the boundaries that protect the person’s self-esteem and personal freedom. It is especially true in relation to doctor’s visits and making important health care decisions.

There are a number of different opinions which can arise in regards to an older loved one’s health. For example:

  • The older adult may want to keep information from the doctor or downplay troubling symptoms.
  • You might feel strongly about one course of treatment while the person prefers another.
  • Your loved one may feel self-conscious going over sensitive information with the doctor that you feel needs to be shared.

The key to obtaining the best outcome for the person is pre-planning. Think through these important tips before, during, and after the next doctor’s visit:

Ahead of the Appointment

  • Schedule the appointment for a time when both you and your loved one are most alert and energized. If either of you feels tired in the late afternoon, for example, stick with morning appointments.
  • Talk about the issues that you feel need to be discussed with the doctor. Arrive at an agreement about what is most comfortable for the person with regards to these topics. For instance, the individual may want you to be in the exam room to advocate and explain concerns, but may prefer you to leave the room when it is time for the actual health check, coming back afterwards to take notes on the doctor’s recommendations.
  • In the event that the individual will not address something you deem to be important, such as changes in cognition or a recent fall, request a call with the doctor ahead of the appointment to let them know your concerns.

During the Appointment

  • When possible, allow the person to answer the doctor’s questions themselves. However, be ready to assist when needed, or to talk about additional details the individual may have forgotten.
  • Advocate for your loved one by asking further questions to make sure they are clear about the information being provided, specifically if the doctor is asking your loved one to make a decision about next steps.
  • Ask the doctor to demonstrate any tasks you will have to assist with, such as cleaning and redressing a wound, and inquire about any resources unique to the person’s particular health condition(s).

Following the Appointment

  • Chat with your loved one on the drive home about what they thought about the appointment. What went well? What concerns do they have? Study the doctor’s recommendations together so that you both know the next steps.
  • If there are additional questions that arise or there are questions you forgot to ask during the appointment, call the office as soon as possible to get the information you need.
  • If you find yourselves unable to make a decision about a critical medical decision, or are dealing with continuing conflict with one another, talk with the physician about this as well. It is also a wise idea to contact a family counselor or any other trusted, unbiased professional who is able to help you get through your differences in a healthy way.

For additional strategies to make sure the next doctor’s visit goes smoothly and all of the doctor’s suggestions are clearly understood and followed, contact Compassionate Nursing Services’ experts in Oakville dementia and home care. Our caregivers can provide transportation and accompaniment, pick up prescriptions, provide medication reminders, and more. Call us at 314-432-4312 for more information! For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, visit our Service Area page.