It’s essential to understand information from the doctor
Having a good understanding of your older adult’s health conditions is especially important because they’re usually managing serious chronic conditions or multiple health problems.
As their health advocate, knowing what’s going on with your older adult’s medications and treatments helps reduce medication errors and improves quality of life.
We explain why not having a clear understanding could contribute to health problems and share 3 tips to improve communication and understanding during your older adult’s doctor visits.
Not having a clear understanding can contribute to health issues
Not clearly understanding information or instructions from your older adult’s doctors could contribute to serious health issues.
Issues could include:
- Going back to the hospital for the same health condition within a short period of time.
- Problems with medication because of an incorrect dose or timing, negative drug interactions, or harmful side effects.
- Having a medical emergency because early warning signs for a health condition weren’t known.
- Not knowing how to properly use or maintain important medical equipment such as an insulin pump, pacemaker, or catheter.
Speak up and ask the doctor to explain further
At your older adult’s doctor’s visits, make sure you understand everything the doctor tells you about their health and how to manage their conditions.
If the doctor says anything that you don’t understand, speak up immediately and ask them to explain using simpler terms.
Don’t feel embarrassed – you didn’t go to medical school and shouldn’t be expected to instantly understand.
The doctor’s job is to make sure that your older adult gets good care. An essential part of that is making sure that you’re able to make informed decisions and follow through with their instructions.
3 top tips for improved communication during doctor visits
1. Prepare for appointments
- Make a list of problems you want to discuss.
- Make a list of your older adult’s symptoms or issues – when they started, when they’re worst, etc.
- Make a list of all the medications, vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter medications they’re currently taking.
2. Ask plenty of questions and take notes
- If something isn’t clear, ask the doctor or nurse to explain it a different way, write it down for you, or use more common terms.
- For example, if the doctor prescribes a new medication, ask about common side effects or if it will interfere with other medicine.
- Another example is to ask how you would know if a treatment is working or not.
3. Call the doctor when you have questions
- If a problem or question comes up, call the doctor immediately.
- Don’t wait until the next appointment.
- Getting answers right away can prevent small problems from becoming big ones.
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- Why Seniors Need a Health Advocate: 7 Health Benefits
- Prevent Serious Illness with 4 Vaccines for Seniors
By DailyCaring Editorial Team