Of all of the many responsibilities a family caregiver encounters, potentially one of the most overwhelming is managing elderly health issues. The National Council on Aging reports that about three–quarters of all seniors are identified as having at least two chronic conditions, and are seeing on average four healthcare specialists.
As your senior parent’s advocate, it is essential to know simple tips to communicate effectively with those on the older adult’s medical team, and to arrive at appointments fully ready to address any and all issues. The following four questions are a good place to begin:
- Are all of these prescriptions essential? With most aging parents taking many medications, you’ll want to keep a detailed list and evaluate it periodically with the doctor as well as the pharmacist, both of whom will be able to make sure there aren’t any duplications prescribed by different specialists, or any contraindications between meds.
- If prescribing something new, what unwanted side effects should we expect to see? Evaluating the advantages vs. the potential health risks for any new medication is essential, as there might be occasions when difficult side effects surpass any benefits available. And in case the doctor offers a blanket statement such as, “Most patients do not experience any difficulties with this medication,” make sure to follow up to learn more about the people who DO experience problems.
- What’s the most effective way to relieve pain and discomfort? We’re all conscious of the opioid epidemic, and also the chance of addiction along with other concerns which come with taking prescription pain medications. Yet unaddressed discomfort and pain can bring about both slowed healing and significant emotional stress, both for the senior experiencing pain and his or her caregivers.
- If this were your grandfather, what would you do? Inviting the doctor to step into your shoes is generally a very helpful way to gauge the manner in which you may choose to move forward. There may, in fact, be less invasive or aggressive ways to managing a challenge that you might like to investigate first.
- Accompanying older adults to healthcare appointments and procedures and making sure questions are addressed
- Ensuring medicines are taken exactly as prescribed
- Proactively monitoring for any changes in condition, such as medication side effects, and reporting them immediately
- Planning and preparing nutritious meals and providing encouragement to stay physically active to enhance health
- And so much more
To get started on an improved quality of life for a senior, simply call us at (907) 677-7890 to request an in-home consultation, and to learn more from the Anchorage elder care experts families trust. To learn about all of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.