-Do the Legal Paperwork
Give the doctor copies of your parent's signed health care proxy or durable medical power of attorney so he knows who in the family is responsible for making health care decisions should your parent be unable to do so. In addition, have your parent give the doctor a list of family members allowed access to thiermedical condition. Most doctors will have the patient sign consent forms so they can speak with that family member without the patient's presence.
-Pick One Family Liaison
Pick one person from the family that you want the physician to speak to and who will then transmit this information to the rest of the family. Physicians do not have time to field phone calls from several family members it can also cause confusion or delay care.
-Attend Doctor Appointments
Whether it’s by phone or in person attend your parents medical appointments to get first hand information on their current medical state. It is also important to ensure that the medical team can get in contact with you if needed. Make sure they havea list of ways you can be reached in case of an emergency.
If you can't attend the visit, contact the physician afterwards or read any paperwork given to your parent. Keep in mind that if you contact the physician you may not get an immediate response.
-Get Help if You Need it
If you can't attend appointments, consider hiring a geriatric care manager, concierge service, home health aide, paid caregivers or ambulatory escort who can do it for you. You can then ask this person to relay what was said during the visit and ask any questions you need answered.
Geriatric care managers (GCMs) are particularly helpful communicating with the senior, medical providers, and family caregivers. Many individuals have found the right care managers invaluable when there are complex medical situations and the family caregiver cannot be as involved as he or she would like.
If managing your loved ones care is something that is something that needs to be handled on a daily basis you may want to consider transitioning them to an Assisted Living Facility. The staff at ALFs are able to not only manage your loved ones medical needs, but ensure they are properly following medical advice.
Be prepared that parents may have some resistance to having an outside individual becoming involved in their care. Be sure to have conversations with your parents before you interview potential caregivers and explore why they are resistant.
-Don't Assume Doctors Share Information
You have to be an advocate and keep your own records. This includes making a list of all your parent's doctors, their medications, and their pharmacy phone number. Distribute the list to each physician and update it as necessary.
-Use One Medical Group
If all your parent's doctors are affiliated with the same hospital or large medical practice, it's much easier for their primary care doctor to keep abreast of a patient's health status from the various specialists’.
If it's just not possible to have all medical providers practicing in the same group, it is extremely important that you or a Care Manager keep notes at medical appointments and report to the rest of the care team. Having one notebook or file to document all of this information can be helpful as the information remains in one place and there is only one record to bring to medical appointments.
Assisted Living communities often have a group of practioners, pharmacies, and auxiliary professionals (ex. Physical therapist) they work with on a regular basis. This makes managing your loved ones care seamless and more efficient.
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