Have you been going with your elderly parent to his or her doctor’s appointments?
Here are the questions you should be asking your parent’s primary care physician or geriatrician:
- What is the diagnosis?
- Are you prescribing new medications today?
- What are the possible side effects of the medications you have prescribed? Medication nteractions?
- Are there certain foods and drinks we should avoid with this medication?
- What mental or physical changes should we look out for?
- What exercises do you recommend to improve balance, strength, and cardiovascular fitness?
- What blood work will be done today?
- Are there follow-up tests that will need to be done?
- How do we prepare for the tests you have recommended? (eg. Fasting)
- How will we receive the test results? Should we call to get them?
- Can we receive copies of the test results and medical records?
- Could my parent’s medications affect their risk of falling?
- What balance tests would you recommend to determine my parent’s risk for falling?
- When should I make the next appointment?
To best prepare for your visit to the doctor keep ongoing documentation about changes in your parent’s behavior including mood, appetite, and sleep. Being able to trace the mental and physical changes that preceded an adverse event such as a fall, chest pain, or dizziness can help the physician devise a suitable intervention.
Check with the doctor to make sure your parent has completed a HIPAA form that will allow you to access medical information on his or her behalf over the phone and in person. Be sure to also check that your parent has filed an advanced directive and assigned a health care agent or proxy.
What other questions would you suggest caregivers ask at physician’s appointments?