According to most, rushed when going to a doctor's appointment seems to be the norm rather than an exception. Older adults especially may feel rushed and may hesitate to ask their doctor any questions other than for the medical issue at hand. Being unable to speak freely with your physician though can lead to health consequences as a small issue may escalate into a much larger health concern if unaddressed.
According to studies, nine out of ten patients, regardless of age, have a hard time communicating with their physician, but as one ages, they have a more difficult time understanding the information the doctors are passing along to them.
As your parents age, it is usually a good idea to have a family member attend the office visits and take notes on what the doctor says and help them voice their concerns. It's also a good idea make sure they keep a notebook of medical concerns and aches and pains as they arise between doctor's visits.
If your parents are unable to get a family member to go to the doctor's visit and advocate for them, they need to be able to speak up and ask the doctor to repeat information and instructions. This is a good reason to bring the notebook and go through the list of medical concerns. Be sure to stress to them the importance of taking careful notes.
Taking all current medications to doctor's visits with them is also a good idea as the doctor will want to see the medications and the dosage. This is especially important if your parent has more than one doctor treating them. Having the doctor check your loved one’s medications will help prevent harmful drug interactions. In some cases, drug interactions can cause dizziness which can lead to trip and fall accidents. In individuals over the age of 65, trip and fall accidents are the leading reason they become hospitalized and may lose the ability to age in place.
If you, or another family member cannot attend the appointment with them, make sure that they are clear as to what the ‘chief complaint’ is. That way they can more effectively communicate with the doctor. Again, another reason to keep a notebook. If there is more than one issue, prioritizing them will help the doctor understand the best way to help.
As your parents age, they are more than likely determined to age in place. Taking care of their health on a daily basis is a must. Another way to help them remain independent, and to provide peace of mind to all family members is to equip the home with a medical alert system provided by LifeFone. These devices provide the senior with a medical alert pendant and in the event of an emergency at the push of a button medical personnel can be dispatched.
Remaining active, taking medications at the prescribed doses, having the home age-proofed and having access to a medical alert device can help your aging parent remain safe and healthy in his or her own home.