Life can look a lot different when you enter your golden years, but it can look a lot different for family members too. If you have a loved one who is a senior, you may start to worry about their health and whether they are getting the care they deserve.
Although mom or dad may once have been able to take care of their health all on their own, increased age often comes with an increase in medical concerns, and managing everything themselves can be difficult. Not to mention, with nursing home complaints tripling between 2016 and 2018, you don’t want to find out your loved one is being mistreated.
Whether at home or in the nursing home, these tips will help you make sure your loved one gets the medical care they deserve.
Go With Them To Medical Appointments
Being an advocate for an aging parent is one of the best ways you can care for their health as they get older. That’s means going with them to doctor appointments.
It can be difficult for anyone, no matter what age, to make the most of a doctor’s appointment. When it’s your own health, it can be hard to stay objective when receiving a diagnosis, and it’s easy to freeze up in the exam room and forget to ask an important question.
As your loved one’s healthcare advocate, you can provide comfort in the waiting room, as well as the exam room. You can ask questions and bring up concerns your loved one may forget about, and you can let the doctor know that there is someone in your loved one’s life who is taking an active role in their healthcare.
Know the Names and Contact Information of Doctors and Pharmacists
As we age, it’s natural that the number of doctors we see will increase. Because medicine is so specialized, mom or dad may end up seeing one doctor for their knees, another for a chronic internal problem, and yet another for their eyes.
It’s a good idea to keep a list of all the doctors your loved one sees, no matter how frequently they visit the office. That way, you always know who to contact whenever you have any questions.
While you’re at it, include the name of your loved one’s pharmacist, and list all visits with doctors and prescription fills. That way, you know when it’s time to schedule mom or dad’s next appointment and with whom.
Get Familiar With Their Insurance Policies
Insurance can be a real nightmare, no matter how old you are, but things can get even more complicated after retirement. In addition to switching to Medicare at age 65, your loved one may have or need a supplemental policy, as Medicare doesn’t cover everything. Your loved one may also have or need a long-term care insurance policy.
It’s important that your loved one isn’t stuck trying to navigate the intricacies of their policies on their own. Sit down with them and discover exactly how their plan works together so there are no surprise bills later on down the road.
Chances are, your loved one already sees multiple doctors, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your research. It’s important to research medical professionals whenever your loved one is referred to a new doctor, and you may want to do a little digging to learn more about their existing doctors.
Aside from asking the doctor directly, there are ways you can find out more about their qualifications. Things you’ll want to look into include:
- Board certification
- The medical school they attended
- How long they have been practicing
- Hospital affiliations
You may also want to look for reviews or ask for recommendations from other patients if bedside manner and personality are important to you.
If you uncover anything disturbing, or you think you have found a better fit for your loved one, don’t be afraid to switch.
Help Them Manage Their Medication
Not only do the number of doctors start adding up as we age, so do the number of medications we take. It isn’t uncommon for seniors to take up to 15 medications each day.
The number of medications taken can be overwhelming, but things get even more complicated because each medication needs to be taken at certain times. It’s easy to forget or take the wrong dosage, which can have profound effects on your loved one’s health.
Help them organize their medication and check in with them to make sure they are taking everything correctly.
Research Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities Carefully
Every senior wants to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible, but if the time has come to consider a nursing home or assisted living facility, make sure you do your homework.
It’s important that you find a facility that’s affordable, but it’s also important that the facility is staffed by knowledgeable, kind people who will ensure your loved one’s stay is as full, happy, and healthy as possible as they live out their final years.
Be Involved in Their Life
Whether they live at home or they are in a nursing home, one of the best ways you can care for your loved one’s health is simply to be involved in their life.
The only way to truly know if they are taking their medication, if the home health aid is doing their job, or if they are being treated with kindness by the staff at the nursing home is to check in frequently. Have dinner, stop by in the afternoons, and invite them to spend time with your family. The more opportunities you have to talk, the more opportunities there are to support their health.
Getting medical care isn’t straightforward. From seeing multiple doctors to taking multiple medications and dealing with insurance, you can do a lot to help your loved ones get the care they deserve, whether they live at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home.