Of all of the many responsibilities a family caregiver or care advocate encounters, potentially one of the more overwhelming is managing health problems. The National Council on Aging estimates that around three quarters of all seniors are identified as having a minimum of two chronic diseases, and are seeing an average of four medical experts.
As your senior parent’s advocate, it is crucial to learn how to communicate effectively with those on the senior’s medical team, and to come to appointments fully willing to address any and all issues. The following four questions are an excellent starting point:
- Are all of the prescription drugs required? With most senior loved ones taking numerous medications, you’ll need to keep an in-depth list and evaluate it periodically with the doctor along with the pharmacist, each 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 side effects should we expect to see? Evaluating the benefits vs. the potential health risks for any new medication is essential, as there could be situations when troublesome side effects overshadow any advantages available. And if the physician offers a blanket statement such as, “Most people do not encounter any issues with this medication,” be sure to follow up for more information about individuals who DO encounter problems.
- What is the best way to reduce pain and discomfort? We’re all conscious of the opioid epidemic, and the chance of addiction and other problems that come with taking prescription pain medications. Yet unaddressed pain can cause both slowed healing and considerable emotional stress, both for a senior loved one experiencing pain and his or her caregivers.
- If this was your grandfather, what would you do? Inviting the physician to step into your shoes can be an incredibly helpful way to gauge the way you might want to proceed. There may, in reality, be less invasive or aggressive means to managing a problem which you might like to explore first.
To get more suggestions for making sure a cherished older adult is provided with the best possible care, connect with the home care professionals at CareWorks Health Services. We are here to help through:
- Accompanying older adults to healthcare appointments and procedures and making certain that questions are answered
- Ensuring medicines are taken just as prescribed
- Proactively watching for any changes in condition, such as medication side effects, and reporting them right away
- Preparing healthy meals and offering encouragement to stay physically active to improve health
- And much more