Helping An Aging Parent With Healthcare
Many adult children enjoy seeing their parents having the freedom to travel or pursue new hobbies in retirement. But maybe you’ve noticed your mom or dad slowing down as they age. Unfortunately, many parents experience more frequent health issues as time goes by. How do you know when it’s time to step in and offer some help when it comes to health care for an aging parent?
Your mom or dad may need help managing health care in the following situations:
- After an Illness, Accident, or Surgery
Often, aging parents may need help managing health care if an unexpected accident or illness sends them to the hospital. Short-term care or rehabilitation may be needed before they are able to return home or several follow-up visits with a doctor may be required.
- Your Parent Can’t Understand or Remember Instructions
If your parent has a current health issue or has had a recent doctor’s visit, take the time to have a conversation about that visit. See if your mom or dad can summarize the doctor’s diagnosis and advice about how to treat the issue. Do they understand the care instructions? Do they understand why any tests, imaging, or medicines are needed? Do they know if they need a follow-up visit with the doctor? If they seem confused about any of these items, it’s time to step in and help.
- Multiple Doctors Are Needed
Some health conditions may require a specialist. Your mom or dad will still need their primary care doctor for overall health, but if they also require one or more specialists, it becomes more complicated to coordinate care, medications, and appointments.
How You Can Help
- Offer Your Listening Skills
Accompany your mom or dad to their appointments to help listen to the doctor. It’s also helpful to take notes. Let you parent start the conversation with the doctor first. You can help fill in details if your parent isn’t able or ask questions for clarification. If you’re not able to be at appointments in person, ask your parent to sign a HIPAA form that allows the doctor’s office to talk to you about their condition over the phone.
- Keep an Eye on the Big Picture
If multiple doctors are involved in your parent’s care, it’s good to keep track of all medical tests and medications being ordered. Different doctor’s offices may or may not be on the same electronic medical records systems. If they are on different systems, they may not know another doctor recently ordered the same blood test or also prescribed an antibiotic. As a healthcare advocate, you can relay that information to prevent duplication of tests or repeating an antibiotic.
Most electronic medical records systems offer options for patients to designate another person to access their records. If you and your parent agree on this option, it allows you to view test results and send non-urgent messages to the physician as needed. This can be a great option for adult children who do not live in the same town as their parents.
- Enlist Others
Caregiving is a big job with a high rate of burnout. Ask siblings or other family members to help share the caregiving load. You may also be able to locate a geriatric care coordinator to help coordinate medical care. See if any local agencies in your community offer services for the elderly, or you can visit the website of the Aging Life Care Association to search for care managers in your area.
Locating a Doctor for Mom or Dad
Perhaps your parents recently moved to the area to be close to you or are searching for a new primary care provider for other reasons. The internal medicine and family physicians at LeBauer HealthCare have experience caring for seniors. Offices are conveniently located throughout the Triad, and all LeBauer doctors are backed by a comprehensive network of LeBauer and Cone Health specialists. Find a primary care doctor in your neighborhood today.
LeBauer also offers MyChart, a convenient patient portal that allows seniors to give adult children access to their portal. Patients and designated children are able to view test results and send non-urgent questions to the medical team.
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