Health & Medical Tips
Geriatricians are physicians who are specifically trained in the special needs of elders (including memory loss/dementia, urinary problems, fall prevention, multiple medications, etc.).
Occupational and physical therapists evaluate an individual’s function in the home and work with the elder’s primary doctor to design comprehensive safety recommendations.
Geriatric care managers work with families to help with caregiving. They provide services such as; facilitating communication among doctors, determine the types of services needed, aid in medical management and provide updates about the senior’s health. Due to their direct care approach, geritatric care managers are ideal for family caregivers providing long-distance care.
Neurologists are specialized in diagnosing or treating disorders of the brain and nervous system such as; Alzheimer's or Dementia disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), concussion, epilepsy, migraine, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and stroke. (hyperlink to page below on “Questions for your neurologist”) Neurologists are the only professionals that may provide a legitimate diagnosis in certain areas such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
Questions to ask the neurologist:
What is the exact diagnosis?
What are some treatment options?
Which of the options do you think addresses our circumstance?
How long does it take to assess the progress of the treatment?
How will you track possible drug side effects?
What side effects should be alerted for at home?
When are the best times to call you?
Is one treatment option more certain to conflict with medications for other impairments?
What are some worries with stopping one medication and starting another?
At which stage of the disease would it be appropriate to stop or adjust the treatment and medication?
When is it time to consider hospice care?
Doctor’s Office Checklist
It is important to go with your loved one to doctor’s appointments. This will make certain that you both have full knowledge of the medical course of action. This is especially important if your loved one exhibits cognitive impairment.
A checklist is an efficient way to track what you learned at the appointment. Here is a checklist to help you make the most of your doctor’s visit:
Before the Appointment
Write down questions and concerns you’d like to inquire about so that they are not forgotten. Helpful note: Always ask! Even if you are unsure of the significance of the topic.
Investigate prior to the appointment by tracking your loved one’s symptoms. This will provide the doctor with some ideas as to what may be triggering certain symptoms.
Maintain and bring an up-to-date list of your loved one’s medications and supplements to your doctor.
Always call to confirm your doctor’s visit.
If you plan on seeing a certain doctor on a regular basis, schedule the visit around the certain time and day in order to maintain continuity for you and your loved one.
When you are at the Appointment
Be sure to have your list of medications and supplements.
Report symptoms you have noticed your loved one has exhibited as well as when they have exhibited certain behaviors.
After you ask each question on your list, write down the answers as well the particular instructions given by the doctor.
Always ask for any recommendations in relevance to your loved one’s situation.
Arrange a follow-up phone call in case questions or concerns arise.
After your Appointment
Check and clarify your notes and documentation
Review prescriptions and medications
Set a reminder for your follow up call and future appointments
Call for any lab results
Hospital Tips to Improve Care & Recovery
Hospitals are confusing and stressful places. When your loved one is in the hospital, certain tips can help you avoid problems and make informed decisions. These tips come straight from the source of healthcare workers.
Be Alerted of Freestanding ERs
Freestanding ERs are not the same as hospital ERs and will not be equipped to handle medical conditions that seniors have.
Research for Rehab and Skilled Nursing Facilities
Contact a facility of interest and ask about their experience with your loved one’s specific condition.
Make Sure to Sanitize Everything
Seniors are susceptible to infections, use alcohol wipes on everything you touch such as; bed rails, chairs, door handles etc. Always clean their hands before eating.
Join the Conversation
Ask nurses to conduct any updates at your senior’s bedside. If you are in the room, you can listen in or correct misunderstandings before it causes any problems.
Don’t Be a Distraction
Ask questions with nurses, but be sure to avoid distracting them while they’re administering or preparing your loved one’s medication in order to avoid mistakes.
Ask Your Doctor About The Procedure
It is important to consider that your senior’s surgeon will likely not be conducting the full operation as well as the follow-up care. They may refer to other doctors who may not be as experienced. It is vital to find out which parts your primary doctor will be doing.
Doctors are Encouraged to Overtreat
This encouragement can lead to some surgeons to suggest surgeries for your loved one that may not be necessary. Always ask about the ramifications of not doing the procedure prior to starting anything.
Check to See If Your Loved One Will Be Admitted
Medicare does not pay for post-hospitalization services such as rehab or home health unless your loved one has been admitted for a minimum amount of 3 days.
Always Double Check Your Hospital Bill
8 out of 10 hospital bills have an error? It is important to confirm that all services and treatments billed for were actually received by your loved one. Additionally, you may even be able to accomodate a discount.
Second-Guess Tests to “absolutely sure”
Medical tests can be done as a “just in case” though these tests can be invasive. Always inquire about the details of these tests; such as why they are necessary, what new information will it provide, and how it would modify your loved one’s care.
Be Very Detailed About Your Medications
Nurses may assume that all information regarding your loved one’s medication is in the computer, however, that is not always the case. Always bring a printed list of your loved one’s dosages of medications and supplements with the days and times that they are taken or administered.
If Admitted, Document Everything
Try to record times, dates, and names of services or tests are done. This will help resolve any billing issues.
Ask the doctor if there are foods to avoid especially while on certain medications.
Schedule Surgery Earlier in the Week
Hospitals have more staff available during the week. Scheduling surgery early in the week can lead to a recovery by the weekend. On weekends, there is less staff and some services may not be provided.
Always Take Notes, Primarily at the Discharge Stage
While being stressed, it is completely natural to forget some of the information given by healthcare professionals. Writing everything down in a notebook will help in reminding you of the information that you will need to remember later on.
Grab Your Documents Immediately
Ask for copies of certain documents such as; labs results, tests, scans, surgery reports, and the summary of discharge. It is very difficult to have hard copies of these after leaving, it is best to grab it while you are there and in the system.
Schedule A Follow-Up Appointment Before Prior to Leaving
Have the hospital make the arrangements for a follow-up appointment in the right time frame.