Unfortunately, our society generally glorifies youth and fears or even despises old age, rather than embracing aging and associating age with wisdom and knowledge. Because of this, as we age, we fear the deterioration of our bodies and the possible lack of security due to low income, loss of friends, relationships, etc. Often with the aging population, instead of taking responsibility for their own decisions they will rely on children or others to make decisions for them. Sometimes your elderly loved ones may even buy into the notion that they themselves are no longer useful and as a result make little attempt to keep themselves healthy and active. After all, they are getting closer to the end of their lives so ‘why does my health even matter?’ If any of this sounds familiar to you, this is an indication that it’s time to talk to your loved one about how to advocated for their own healthcare. Often times, going to the Doctor’s office can seem tiring, exhausting, and not worth while. I hear Client’s say often what’s the point of going to the Doctor? They don’t help me anyways! And unfortunately, if you’re not advocating for yourself, that can be true. Here are some simple steps to prepare your loved one (or yourself!) for their next Medical Appointment.
The average patient usually has three (or more) issues that he or she wants to address during a visit with their healthcare provider. Because time with the provider is limited, it helps to make a list of the most important issues to cover and take it with you. If you have concerns over your ability (or your loved ones ability) to thoroughly discuss the issues they are having, make arrangements for someone to attend the appointment with them. You may need to fill out a HIPAA release to do this, but it may help to have someone their who can help advocate for your healthcare needs. Havenwood can also help with this through providing caregiver support or through geriatric care management.
What does that mean? Don’t be afraid to ask questions when something a doctor says goes over your head.
Ideally, doctors should always communicate at a level that matches a patient’s knowledge, but that doesn’t always happen. Communication is crucial to a good health care experience. When patient’s take an active role in their care, research shows they fare better in satisfaction and in how well treatments work. A passive patient is less likely to get well. Yet patients often don’t speak up for themselves.
Communicate Concerns and Desires
Communication means asserting yourself if you have a problem with the care you’re getting, or if there’s an issue you want your doctor to consider. Your out-of-pocket costs, for example, may be a concern. Even with insurance, often patient’s are left with high out of pocket costs. If your Provider orders tests that may be expensive, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns. Perhaps there are options to help pay for the tests, or other resources available to you that you might not know about if you didn’t ask. There may be other concerns you have, or desires for your health outcomes. Be sure to discuss these items with your health care provider.
Maintain your own records
If you’ve ever switched doctors or seen a specialist, you know what a hassle it can be to have your records transferred. With the growing prevalence of electronic health records, maintaining your own records is easier than ever. By keeping tabs on your own documents, you won’t have to worry as much about them getting lost in the shuffle, and you can see exactly what your doctors are seeing.