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.

Not only does a written question list ensure you address all of your areas of concern, taking notes during the appointment also alleviates any confusion afterwards.

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

  • What should I be aware of regarding my parent's diagnosis? What changes should I be reporting?
  • Will further testing be required? How often?
  • This is what I found online. Is it accurate?
  • Will we need to find a specialist or do you have experience with this condition?
  • What blood work should be done? (A regular 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 parent is currently taking and explain the reason. Be proactive in removing medications that are not providing real benefits and may be contributing to a cognitive decline or inability to function.
  • These are new symptoms I'm observing. Should I be concerned?
  • What is your recommendation for follow up care? When should we return? Are there therapeutic services we should arrange at home?

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

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