How to Advocate for Your Aging Parent’s Health Care
How to Advocate for Your Aging Parent’s Health Care. If you are one of the millions of adult children in the United States responsible for the care of an aging parent, you are well aware of the weight of this responsibility. This can be a challenge when your parent is relatively healthy and independent. Factor in chronic diseases and you may quickly feel overwhelmed.
The National Council on Aging reports that close to 70% of seniors suffer from two or more chronic conditions and sees an average of four specialists at any given time. Getting a parent to and from appointments – especially if you are working – can be difficult. While an in-home assisted living provider can help in such circumstances, it is important that you attend as many as these appointments as necessary so that you can be your parent’s advocate.
Again, a trusted in-home health care provider will be able to make sure that your elderly parent does things like take their medication as prescribed but it is still crucial that you oversee your parent’s health issues. This includes being aware of all the medicines your parent is taking.
Overseeing your aging parent’s health care means accompanying them on their doctor appointments and asking the right questions. In today’s health care environment, it may seem like doctors have less time to talk with patients but it is important that you feel comfortable asking questions so that you know your parent is getting the best care possible.
If your parent is on a number of medications, you need to know that all of these medications are necessary. If a senior is prescribed medicines from several different specialists, you should bring a list of those medications to your parent’s primary care physician so that he or she is aware of the situation and can alert you to any red flags.
Many times an elderly person will require surgery. If this is a lifesaving measure, or there is no other alternative, it is important that your parent gets that surgery. However, if it is an elective surgery, or not considered an emergency, you may want to explore other options such as physical therapy. Remember, there is nothing wrong with asking about these things.
Finally, many older adults put on a brave face when they are suffering and feel as if they are bothering their doctor if they ask about pain relief. If your parent is in a lot of pain but is hesitant to bring it up to their physician, you need to intervene. When a person is in a great deal of pain it can leave them open to depression, stress and even physical problems.
Many seniors don’t want to feel as if they are bothering their health care providers. If you suspect your parent is feeling this way, it is your responsibility to step in and be their advocate. Your parent will likely be pleasantly surprised to discover how much their physician cares about them and their health.