If you are a long distance care provider – be a patient advocate- take your relative to his or her physician and go in the examining room with them.
Before your trip to your elderly relative:
ØCall to make an appointment with your elderly relative’s physician on a date during your visit.
ØIn the call
ØAsk to talk to his her RN, and get a good understanding of the doctor’s practice, so you can ask the best questions. Is she an internist, general practionioner, or geriatrician?
ØIf you have concerns, like increased confusion, a fall that you think important to discuss, tell the RN and send them to the office, via fax or e-mail, prior to the appointment. Ask if she/he can show to the doctor.
ØGive yourself your important job title–. You are a main caregiver and have a vital interest in this visit. If you are the power of attorney for health care make sure the RN knows that. Ask about a HIPAA Release of Information Form, and make sure one is on file at the doctor’s office so that you can talk about private information about the older person with the doctor.
Before the doctor’s visit
ØTalk to the older person and ask what they’d like to discuss to with the doctor.
ØMake list of all the questions you or your elderly relative wants to ask and symptoms that worry you both. Physicians like short precise information. Remember that physician’s appointments are brief – like 10 minutes make the questions concise and short. Take these with you and either can I pad, I phone or pen and paper.
During the doctors visit
Be a patient advocate. Go in to the examining room to see the doctor with your elderly relative. Be friendly and communicate and with a smile. This simple sign can get you a long way. Cover your questions and concerns quickly and concisely. Listen to her/his answers and order and jot them down. If the doctor does not it bring up, ask if there are any medication changes and record these as well. Note any additional tests the doctor orders to be sure your parent follows up.
After the doctor’s visit
ØGo to the pharmacy and pick up any new medication
Ask the pharmacist They know more than the physician about drugs about all new and old meds: purpose, directions, dose, potential problems. You can do this at any large pharmacy. Just ask to talk to a pharmacist.
ØIf you have hired a geriatric care manager they will do this for you and report back the results after the visit.