Most older adults manage 3+ chronic health conditions
If your older adult has multiple health problems, going to the doctor can be especially challenging. With today’s uncoordinated medical care, it’s too easy for one doctor to overlook what other doctors have prescribed or recommend conflicting treatments.
Chronic health conditions like diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart disease require regular doctor’s visits and, usually, daily medications. Many seniors manage three or more chronic conditions and see multiple doctors and specialists.
4 expert tips for managing multiple health conditions
To get better care and prevent problems with treatment or medication, bring this patient-centered tip sheet to the next appointment.
It’s got advice from 11 geriatrics experts from the American Geriatrics Society and tells you what to say to doctors that will help them give your senior the best care. Here, we’ve summarized the four tips we found most useful.
1. Tell the doctor about your older adult’s priorities for care
- Ask for medications that work best for your older adult’s lifestyle, specific health needs, and overall comfort.
- Different medications can often reach the same treatment goal, but may work in different ways and have different side effects.
2. Ask about trade-offs between benefits and risks of treatments
- Ask the doctor how each option could affect your older adult’s comfort, overall well-being, and long-term health.
- It’s not always in your older adult’s best interest to choose the most aggressive option. Keep an open mind when considering different treatment options. Sometimes, gently managing a condition is a better approach.
3. Tell your doctor right away if a treatment doesn’t seem to be working or is causing problems
- Your parent or spouse shouldn’t have to suffer through side effects or drug interactions that the doctor couldn’t anticipate.
- If you let the doctor know about problems that come up, they can search for alternatives.
4. Get detailed instructions for the recommended treatment plan
- Before leaving the doctor’s office, get clear and detailed instructions in writing about new medications and how to add them to the current regime.
- Important details include: Can this drug be taken at the same time as other medications? What time of day? Empty or full stomach?
If your older adult has multiple chronic health problems, bring this handy tip sheet to their next doctor’s appointment. It will remind you of important questions and help you take clear notes.
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Duke Regional Hospital