If your parent/grandparent were at a doctor’s appointment or in the hospital, would you know how to advocate them? Would you know how to help them make the best medical decisions?
When a grandparent or aging parent is in the hospital, difficult decisions often have to be made. Often it can feel like you’re choosing between liver and lima beans. How do you know what to do?
In order to advocate and help an older person make the best healthcare decisions, you need to have a clear picture of what is going on with their health. It sounds simple, but this is what sometimes happens.
A common occurrence:
- You don’t understand enough to repeat back what is going on with your loved one (so you make decisions based off of assumptions)
- Your understanding of a term like “hospice” or “homecare” or “Medicare” is not accurate (so you make decisions based off of false understanding)
- You don’t have a clear understanding of what a certain procedure really entails (so your loved one may end up agreeing to something they didn’t want to endure)
These occurrences leave you and your grandparent/aging parent in a really bad place. This is why I encourage you to ask questions (even if it feels like a bother). This is why repeating and what you believe is happening in your loved one is so important. To get the best care, you need to have a clear picture of what is going on.
YOUR GOAL: Get a clear picture of what is going on.
Sometimes you luck out because you have a physician who is a good communicator (that’s a good doctor!) Realistically, not every physician is skilled in communicating. If you have a physician who isn’t gifted in communication and getting a new doctor is not easy, don’t fret. If you can get a clear picture of what is going on in your loved one’s health and ask great questions, this can help you determine the next best steps for someone you love (or even you!)
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
When you are confused, ask! Your questions can help determine between good care and poor care. If time does not allow, write down the questions and email the doctor later or call to followup.
Record what the doctor shared.
Write down what the doctor says. Many times our memories might leave important parts of the appointment out. Writing down what happens in an appointment or meeting allows you to have a more thorough record, but it also helps when you have to report a summary of what happened to other family members or professional caregivers.
Ask these types of questions:
- What does this term mean?
- Where is my loved one on the spectrum of illness?
- Do you see my loved one getting more sick?
Advocate and get the best care for someone (or yourself) by getting a clear picture of what is going on. Hope this helps!