Medical Communication Tips for People Taking Care of Elderly Parents

at the doctor's office

Make taking care of elderly parents easier with the help of our care team.

Of all of the many responsibilities a family caregiver encounters when taking care of elderly parents, one of the most difficult is managing health problems. The National Council on Aging reports that almost ¾ of all seniors are identified as having a minimum of two chronic diseases, and they are seeing on average four healthcare specialists.

As your senior parent’s advocate, it is crucial to know simple tips to communicate effectively with those on the senior’s medical team, and also to arrive at appointments fully ready to address any and all issues. The following four questions are an excellent place to start:

  1. Are all of these prescriptions necessary? With most older adults taking numerous medications, you will need to maintain an in-depth list and review periodically with the doctor along with the pharmacist, both of whom should be able to make sure there aren’t any duplications prescribed by different specialists, or any contraindications between meds.
  2. If prescribing anything new, what side effects might we expect to see? Weighing the advantages vs. the potential risks for any new medication is essential, as there can be instances when difficult side effects overshadow any benefits available. And if the physician shares a blanket statement such as, “Most people do not suffer from any complications with this prescription,” be sure to follow up for more information about people who DO encounter problems.
  3. What is the simplest way to relieve pain and discomfort? We’re all conscious of the opioid epidemic, and also the chance of addiction as well as other problems that come with taking prescription pain medications. However, unaddressed discomfort and pain can lead to both slowed healing and considerable emotional stress, both for a senior loved one experiencing pain and his or her caregivers.
  4. If this was your grandmother, what would you do? Inviting the doctor to step into your shoes is actually an incredibly helpful way to gauge the way you may wish to proceed. There may, in fact, be less invasive or aggressive ways to managing a problem which you might want to investigate first.

For additional advice on making sure an older adult you love receives the best possible care, contact the experts in elderly care in Salt Lake City, UT and the surrounding communities at Harmony Home Health & Hospice at 1-877-463-3322 to learn more. To find out more about all of the areas we serve, please visit our Service Area page.