Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Advocating for Your Aging Parent at the Doctor's, Part Two

Fifteen minutes to solve the world's problems? Or cure your aging parent's ills? I can't promise a miracle, but I have found a few keys that have helped me and others advocate for their parent at the doctor's office.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. A little forethought goes a long way. Consider investing in a "black book." True, the color doesn't matter. What does is your dated observations, questions, and comments about your parent's health,such as "June 15: Daddy has lost 10 pounds in the last month without trying. What's up?" The notebook is also a place to jot down a medication list and specific questions for the doctor.

Don't bite off more than you can chew. Your parent's diagnoses have multiplied over the years. He or she may be willing to wax eloquent about bunyons, warts and you name it. Your time with the physician is miniscule, however. Together with your parent, stick to one main concern.

Tip off the doctor. Doctors can advocate with you if they know in advance your concern. If, for example, your dad has experienced two fender benders in several months, you might want to call his doctor before the visit. Ditto if you feel your parent isn't safe at home. Advance knowledge about the problems help physicians use their persuasive powers to influence seniors.

Question, clarify and translate for your parent. During the visit, if your doctor speaks too rapidly and is losing your parent's attention, ask him or her to repeat. Periodically, summarize your understanding of what's been said and ask for clarification. You might say, "I think I heard you say ...Am I right?" Take notes. Afterwards, go over the notes with your parent and anyone else involved in his or her care.

Can you think of other tips on advocating for your aging parent at the doctor's office?


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