Between the record number of Americans in the healthcare system due to the Affordable Care Act and the aging baby boomer population, physicians are in critical demand, with the doctor shortage predicted to reach as high as 90,000 by the year 2025, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. In an era during which healthcare practitioners face greater financial pressures than ever before, doctor visits are a dwindling precious commodity. Read on to learn how seniors and their caregivers can maximize visits to get the most of each appointment.
Planning ahead saves precious seconds.Preparation Matters
Good communication is the key to effective healthcare everyone needs to know how to talk to your doctor. One way to ensure that your aging loved one's physician has access to all the information he needs to offer the best care? Create a plan before each visit to make sure all of your (and your loved one's) concerns are addressed.
Begin by jotting down any and all symptoms your aging loved one has experienced since his last doctor visit. Writing down everything -- from physical pain to difficulty sleeping to signs of depression -- can help you avoid neglecting to share something relevant. In addition to noting each symptom, record when it started, how often it happens, how long it lasts, and if any particular activity makes it better or worse.
Maintaining a comprehensive, up-to-date list of your aging loved one's medications is also valuable. This can help the doctor identify any adverse reactions or side effects which may be caused by a medication or the combination of medications. It can also help doctors safely prescribe additional medications, if necessary.
The Role of Patient Engagement
A breadth and depth of research consistently points to the important role of patient engagement in optimal outcomes. There are profound benefits to involving them in their health care for as long as they are able. In some cases, an aging parent may object to a caregiver accompanying them to their appointments because they may view it as a loss of control or threat to their independence. If you encounter resistance, reinforce that you are simply offering your assistance in the process.
In addition to encouraging your aging loved one to help compile a list of symptoms, also help him identify any questions he may have for his healthcare team. When the lines of communication are open, patients and physicians can be partners in health -- but only if patients are empowered to express themselves.
Encourage your aging loved one to speak up during appointments.
Get it in Writing
Doctor visits can fly by in a blur, leaving caregivers and patients alike confused and overwhelmed. To avoid missing, misunderstanding, or forgetting key information, ask your doctor to write things down for you. This document becomes part of the patient's health history while simultaneously aiding in keeping other family members and the entire healthcare team informed.
Ultimately, modern medicine offers new hope for older patients, but only if doctors, patients, and their caregivers work together as a team. mmlearn.org offers a large library of free videos for caregivers of older adults, covering topics pertaining to senior care. Whether you are a healthcare professional or a family caregiver, if you are caring for an older adult we know that you will find mmlearn.org an essential learning and guidance tool for all of your caregiver training needs. For more useful resources on a diversity of subjects, access our free online caregiver videos.
Whether you are a healthcare professional or a family caregiver, if you are caring for an older adult we know that you will find mmlearn.org an essential learning and guidance tool for all of your caregiver training needs.