Elderly Parents - Helping them Talk to Medical Professionals about Health Care

Elderly Parents - Helping them Talk to Medical Professionals about Health Care

No doubt about it – many of us are intimidated regarding medical health professionals and don't like to ask too many questions. Elderly parents are especially loath to question doctors, nurses or other health care providers because they were raised in a generation where doctors and nurses were considered to be above reproach This is not to say that you should mistrust your doctor in the least. However, today's generation is encouraged to ask questions and to play an important role in the health care provided to yourself, your children and your parent.

Caregivers need to be assertive (not read as arrogant, accusing or demanding) when asking for clarification or explanation of Mom or Dad's doctors and other health care providers. After all, if you're caring for a parent, who knows their everyday habits, behaviors or issues better than you? Don't be afraid to ask doctor questions regarding medications, treatment plans or potential risks to new medications. For more information about pre-appointment preparation please see Doctor's Appointment

Discussing Issues

If you take your elderly parent to see a doctor, nurse, technician or therapist, let them know that you may have questions regarding care. Let them know that you're trying to understand every part of the care giving process when it comes to Mom or Dad, and they will most times be more than happy to explain things for you.

Medical Professional for Elderly

When addressing health care providers, be polite and respectful, but also be firm when it comes to seeking answers to questions you may have about medications, treatments or any other aspect of health care. If possible, request a meeting after hours or ask providers when is a good time you can call or meet for a short question and answer session.

These days, most medical care providers know that patients in the 21st century are taking a more proactive role in medical care, and are more than willing to explain protocols, treatments and test results with you.

However, many caregivers are still intimidated or hesitant to ask questions of medical personnel, or may feel he or she is overstepping their bounds. After all, the doctor is the one with the education and training, isn't he? Yes, however, you also have an obligation to understand your parent's medical care

What do you do if a physician or other health care provider doesn't want to take the time to answer your questions, or brushes you off with a, "How dare you question my treatment or prognosis" attitude? Switch doctors. A doctor who is unwilling to answer relevant questions regarding medical care for your elderly parent is unacceptable by today's standards.

Speak Up!

  • Make a list of questions you want to ask before you get to the doctor's office with your Mom or Dad. It's easy to forget once you get into his or her examination room or office.
  • Always ask for a copy of medical tests and results, not only for insurance purposes, but because you need to stay updated and informed of any changes in your elderly parent's health care.
  • If you need more time to discuss issues or questions with a medical provider than he or she can spare during a regular office visit, ask to set up a time to discuss such issues at a later date..
Medical Professional for Elderly Nurses Hat
  • If advised to change nutrition plans or medications, be sure to ask why and what types of issues or side effects might result. Always inform your parent's doctor of all medications your elderly parent is currently taking, including supplements and even natural or herbal products or medications.
  • Find out what kinds of foods should be avoided with certain medications.
  • Be ready, willing and able to discuss everything with your parent's doctor – even if it's embarrassing.
  • If you don't understand something, speak up! It's important as a caregiver to understand every aspect of your parent's care.
  • It might be helpful to bring a tape recorder to help you remember instructions or information about your elderly parents health care, but always remember to ask if it's okay to use this method. Don't be afraid to ask your parent's doctor to write out lists of instructions regarding care, medications or other details you need help remembering.
  • If you have questions once you get back home, don't hesitate to call the doctor's office. In many cases, staff members may be able to help clarify questions or issues.
  • If your elderly parents have had tests and you don't hear results within a week, call and ask for them.
  • Make sure you understand why any new treatment or medication is being prescribed. Make sure you understand dosage requirements and what to watch out for regarding side effects.

Gone are the days when individuals are not involved in their own care. You don’t have to be a science or medical major with a degree to take an active role in the health care of your parent. 

Talking with Mom and Dad


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