If you're beginning to feel like your parents aren't telling you the whole health story, or that they aren't able to keep up with everything the doctors say, it may be time for you to take a more active role in their regular doctor's visits.
While most doctors do their very best to provide excellent care for their patients, it's also true that patients who are willing to be their own advocates often get the most attention.
This is especially true for elderly patients.
Here are tips on how to communicate with your elderly parent's doctor so you can be an advocate for their health and well being.
Talk to your parents. Many seniors have a deep seeded fear of losing their independence. It's very important to be as open as possible and let them know you would like to take a more active role in their healthcare. Make sure they understand this is a partnership, not a takeover, so their doctor, the patient, and the family can be on the same page.
Sign the appropriate paperwork. The next time your parent visits the doctor, accompany them if you can, or have them sign the paperwork giving you permission to communicate with, and receive medical information from, their healthcare providers.
Doctor-patient confidentiality is a serious matter. Your parent's healthcare provider will not be able to release information to you without legal consent from your parent. The sooner you do this the better so you don't have to battle it should your parent's mental faculties begin to decline.
Keep your parent company. It will be easier to stay on top of health information if you are physically present with your parent at appointments. Make a list of things to ask, or concerns you have, so that you can keep on track. There's a good chance your parent's doctor is completely unaware of certain difficulties or symptoms if your parents haven't shared it. You can also email the doctor if you can't be physically present.
Take notes. While two sets of ears are better than one, it's always a good deal to take notes. Doctor speak can be confusing so the more you can write down, the more you can look up online if you have to.
Don't be shy. Never feel embarrassed to ask a doctor to repeat something or to explain something in a different way. The tips, advice, and information being shared is all in the name of your parent's health. They want you to understand thoroughly, and ask questions if you aren't sure about something.
Be honest. Because seniors are often afraid information they share about their frailties or shortcomings will force them to move, they often hide things from their doctor. As their co-health advocate, it's important that you are honest with the doctor.
Hiding even the smallest details or seemingly simple symptoms or changes can prevent your parent from getting the right treatment when it matters.
The more you can communicate with your elderly parent's doctor, the more you will be able to assist your parent in getting the care they require.