What questions should a caregiver ask when they go to the doctor with an elderly parent?


Q: I’ve been going with my elderly mother to her doctor’s appointments. What questions should I be asking her doctor?

A: To ensure quality follow up care, doctors appreciate their elderly patients being accompanied to appointments by their caregivers. Maximize your time on each visit by keeping a notebook with your questions, observations on any mental or physical changes from the last visit, list of medications and follow up care for your elderly parent. This alleviates any confusion afterwards.

Questions and areas to consider for a primary care appointment are:

  • What physical conditions should I be aware of? What changes should I be reporting?
  • What blood work should be done today? (A CBC (complete blood count) is very important to determine the various levels – especially, cholesterol, blood sugar, thyroid, B-12, iron.)
  • If a new medication is prescribed, what are the possible side effects? Have the doctor review the medications your mother is currently taking and explain the reason. Be proactive in removing meds that are not providing real benefits and may be contributing to a cognitive decline or inability to function.

Be sure your mother has signed a HIPPA form, allowing you to receive medical information on her behalf in person and over the phone. Along with any health care directives, be sure your mother has appointed a health care proxy and the signed form is placed in her medical file.

Gail M. Samaha is the founder of GMS Associates. She is a successful management consultant who from her own personal experience along with her background as a hospice volunteer and 30 years of business management, created an elder care planning division for elders and caregivers and trusted advisors.

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All good advice.

Next, you need to take care of the paperwork before other crises arrive. Does she have a Drable Power of Attorney to allow you to take care of the money? Does she have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (it's different) to allow you to make medical decisions after she can no longer do this? Does she have a Preferred Intentisity of Treatment Form to protect her from being "kept alive" after the body gives up?

Keeping a notebook is excellent. It means you can quote one doctor to another. It also means you have a record of what was prescribed when. It will halp you navigate the maze as it becomes more complicated.

Good luck and blessings rest upon you.