You’re Never too Old to Have Homework

February 17, 2011

Patient-Doctor Communication Series – Part 4 of 4

“Always be prepared!”

Boy scouts…fire fighters…family caregivers.

When it comes to quality senior care…we all need to be prepared!

And preparing for a scheduled doctor’s visit is one of the best places to begin.  We can help our senior parents prepare for upcoming doctor’s visits by helping them identify the reason for their visit and preparing paperwork and questions prior to the appointment.

A few simple tips include:

1.  Prepare paperwork. If this is a first time visit to a new doctor, bring a complete medical history.  If the visit is to a specialists, bring medical records of the condition and any prior test results.

2.  Isolate one subject per visit. Have a list of questions ready for reference and if it appears that more time will be needed for the visit, call ahead and ask the scheduler for a longer time allotment.

3.  Medical information release form. If you anticipate that you will  be discussing your parents’ condition on their behalf, plan ahead and ask your loved one to complete any documentation that will allow you to discuss their care directly with health care providers.

4.  Face-to-face time. Remind your parents to ask to sit face-to-face so that any hearing and vision difficulties can be minimized.  Also, ask your parents to take notes and occasionally summarize and repeat what they have been told.

5.  Remind your parents that it’s okay to ask questions. Health care providers want to make certain that their instructions are being understood and followed.  It’s okay for your parents to ask questions about their health.

6.  Ask for instructions in writing. By having written instructions, a ready reference is available for any family caregivers or family members.

7.  Follow reporting routes in the event of a bad experience. We don’t want it to happen, but occasionally our parents may have a negative experience with a health care provider.  First, ask to speak with a clinic manager and then, if necessary, follow through with regulating authorities.  We’re all interested in receiving the best possible health care and if reporting a negative experience helps the next patient receive better care, we’ve paved the road to better health care for the next family.

We hope that you will view the video below for additional tips on patient-doctor communication:

If you have additional tips on making the most of a doctor’s visit, please share your ideas and stories below or on our Caregiver Forum.

Alisa Meredith, Writer

Guest writer Alisa Meredith is a blogger and social media professional with Scalable Social Media. Every once in a while, someone at Home Instead does something that compels her to stop Tweeting and write something real! This is one of those times.

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