People who have a good relationship with their doctors can actually improve their health outcomes. When you get along with your doctor you feel more comfortable calling with questions, being honest, and listening to their advice.
As people tend to age they can sometimes start to miss their annual physicals or stray away from visiting their doctor when they aren’t feeling well. A full physical exam may feel more uncomfortable or embarrassing for some. Others might be scared to hear what the diagnosis or outcome will be.
As your loved ones age, it’s important that they have a good relationship with their doctors. Here’s more on why it’s beneficial to their health and ways they can improve the relationship.
Prepare for Upcoming Appointments
As seniors get ready for any upcoming doctor appointments, there are a few things they can do in advance to prepare. First, get updated on any new medical information. For instance, if they were recently on medication, took a visit to the hospital, or visited another doctor, they should bring a folder with any related paperwork.
Making a list of current medications, vitamins, or supplements is key. This way the doctor is aware of everything seniors are taking and can make adjustments to medications if necessary.
Encourage your loved ones to make notes on any recent health concerns or problems. This way they won’t forget to mention it at the appointment.
Tip: If you’re loved one is struggling with health or memory problems it might be helpful to gently remind them of their upcoming appointment a few weeks ahead of time. If needed, it’s always a good idea to offer your time to help them in case they don’t remember everything. You can go through their medicine cabinet together and ask them if they have anything concerning or have any questions for the doctor.
Prioritize Your List of Concerns
Doctors’ offices can often run behind–they might be late, and it’s true they are pressed for time. Be sure that your list of questions or concerns are prioritized. Make sure your doctor knows how many concerns are on your list. That way if not all of your questions are addressed in one appointment, you can make a follow-up visit.
Tip: Do your own follow-up. Make sure to ask your loved one how the appointment went. Make sure they understand everything that was discussed. If they have more questions or concerns that weren’t addressed, make sure that they have a follow-up appointment scheduled. If they need help, call the doctor’s office to make the appointment.
Ask Your Family to Come to Your Appointment
As hard as it may be to ask, sometimes having a family member come to your doctor appointment is for the better. Sometimes it can be hard to remember everything that was discussed. Having another individual there for added support can really be beneficial. A family member could help by taking notes or asking questions you might not have thought of.
Tip: As loved ones age they might feel insecure about their health and bodies. If your loved one hasn’t asked you to accompany them to their appointment, take the initiative. Offer your support in going to their appointment and lending an extra set of ears. This could ease the nerves of your loved one.
Avoid Dr. Google
Technology has really evolved over the years. Even seniors are able and willing to use computers. One of the most important reasons seniors should have a good relationship with their doctors is so that they avoid the internet when they have health concerns.
We all do it. Google our symptoms and read more on Wikipedia. The truth is, that’s not a healthy way to learn about your health issues. The internet is filled with information with some not always accurate.
Before your loved one is Googling questions, concerns, or solutions, they should reach out to their doctors. No matter how silly the questions are, it’s always important to get professional opinions.
Tip: Although we can’t help doing our own research, it’s important to encourage our loved ones to speak to a professional. If they have real concerns, the only way to clear up questions and get proper treatment plans is through a healthcare professional.
How To Get In Touch With Your Doctor
Most offices have an answering service or dial-in number for emergencies. It’s beneficial to find out the best way to reach the doctor in case of an emergency. If your loved one wakes up sick in the middle of the night or has any questions or problems with medications, it’s best they understand the way to reach someone beforehand.
Tip: Ask your loved one if they understand the steps they need to take to get in touch with their doctors, especially if it’s after hours. Ask them if they would like some help writing those steps down so they don’t forget. It’s also a good idea for a family member or a caregiver to be aware of the contact method.
Using Electronic Health Records
Many offices use electronic healthcare records. In some states, it’s even mandatory. Even if your loved one is tech savvy, they might need help navigating electronic health records. Make sure they know how to log in if needed to access their own records. Most times they can write messages to the doctor as well, which is another great way to get in touch with your doctor and check to see if any lab results are in.
Tip: Talk to your loved one about their HIPPA settings. Ask if they would feel comfortable if you or another family member would be allowed to be contacted by your doctor with messages or lab results. That way you can help them understand results, ask questions, and get access to their own records.
Is It Time To Switch Doctors?
As seniors tend to age sometimes their general physician isn’t the best fit. Have you considered seeing a geriatrician? A geriatrician is a physician who specializes in senior health, and the prevention and treatment of disease in old age.
Geriatricians are board-certified in family medicine or internal medicine and have also obtained the Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine.
Although some seniors don’t have a ton of health issues, for those that do, it would be beneficial to receive care by nurses, doctors, and staff who have experiences in working with seniors.
Tip: Changing doctors can be scary for just about everyone. For seniors experiencing health problems, it might be a way out of their comfort zone to switch to a new doctor. However, it’s important that you reassure them that they will have the support from family and doctors to make the transition smooth.
Keeping Good Relationships With Doctors
As your loved one ages, it’s important not only for them to continue having trusting relationships with their doctors, but also for any adult child or caregiver.
Being able to communicate with doctors and discuss your loved one’s health problems or concerns is the best way to get a proper treatment plan in place.
When everyone has a good relationship with doctors, the decision making process regarding senior loved one’s health could be smoother and easier.