Maintaining good relationships with family and friends is critical to our happiness at every age, especially when living at independent living communities. But did you know your personal care doctor relationship should be just as important?
Taking an active role in your health is key to wellness, especially as we age.
Seniors who live in independent living communities may be concerned that communication with their primary care physician is not clear enough to address health needs and questions. The answer to improving the doctor-patient relationship may be a combination of support and organization.
Tips to make the most out of a visit
Changes in insurance and Medicare require physicians to see more patients in a day. Doctors don’t have as much time to spend with patients to ensure they understand directions and treatment. There are ways independent living communities and family members can assist seniors to make the most of appointments.
Take someone with you to your appointment
Two heads are better than one when it comes to remembering a lot of information. Ask a family member, trusted friend or even a senior care services staff member to accompany you to your doctor’s appointment. Having someone with you can help offer support as well as help to remember items discussed. This person may remember to ask questions that may not have occurred to you.
Take pen to paper and write down a list of topics to discuss with your physician as well as questions you may have. Prioritize these items to be sure you cover everything within your appointment time. Also prepare a list of your current medications, vitamins and supplements, including dosage information. Co-workers at senior communities may be able to lend a hand to help you put together this list.
If you are seeing a new health care provider, also make lists detailing past health problems, diagnoses, allergies, medical tests, surgeries and other doctors you see.
In today’s healthcare environment, patients may feel rushed during a doctor’s appointment. Seniors who live independently or in retirement communities may be worried their concerns are not being heard by the physician. It is important to stay focused to take advantage of time with the doctor.
Is the doctor listening or is he/she doing all the talking, just prescribing medication? If so, this is a red flag that it might be time to look for another doctor.
Older generations were taught to not question authority, including physicians. That is no longer the case. In fact, doctors appreciate patients asking questions, so they know they are being understood. Sometimes our personal health issues may be embarrassing. Despite this, it is important to be open and honest with the doctor so he/she can make an accurate diagnosis.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions to clarify direction or if something doesn’t seem right. Your visit should be a give and take relationship.
Tips for family members
Offer to accompany your loved one to a medical appointment
Seniors often feel insecure about their health and body issues as they age. Older adults may not want to bother you by asking you to attend a doctor’s appointment.
If you are a caregiver and an older loved one has an upcoming doctor’s appointment, be proactive and offer your support to accompany the individual to the appointment. If you cannot attend, staff members at independent living communities may be able to accompany the senior and cover items per your instructions.
Do your own follow-up
If you cannot attend the appointment, be sure to ask your loved one how the appointment went. Make sure your loved one living in retirement communities understands everything that was discussed and ask them to repeat instructions provided by the physician.
Confirm future appointments
If your loved one has more questions or concerns that weren’t addressed, make sure they have a follow-up appointment scheduled. If not, offer to call the doctor’s office to make the appointment. A senior care services co-worker also can help make appointments.
Organize and maintain a medical file with all of your loved one’s information. Try to keep it updated with current information after every appointment. Be sure to share all medical updates with clinical staff at independent living communities.
Contact the doctor with questions
Encourage your loved one to sign a HIPAA form giving you permission to discuss their health information with the doctor. That will allow you to call the doctor to discuss concerns and ask questions one-on-one.
Independent living communities offer many resources to support residents and family members as they visit with medical professionals. If you are looking for a new doctor, the National Institute on Aging provides this guide to help seniors choose a physician with whom they feel comfortable.
Country Meadows has nine locations in Pennsylvania and one campus in Frederick, Maryland. Our independent living communities offer a wide range of services including independent living, personal care, assisted living, memory support and restorative care. If you would like more information about what to look for in a retirement community or how we can support you or a loved one, please contact us today. Our co-workers can answer questions and provide information on our services.