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I take my mother to multiple doctors many times a month (Mayo Clinic), and one doctor just brought up that my mother always looks to me before she answers any question, and I usually speak for her. She responded to the doctor that I keep track of all her treatments and medical history, and she doesn’t know most of what has been done to her. I also regularly prompt my mother with how she’s described symptoms in the past, so she remembers what she needs to be describing, and I know that looks bad. The doctor said she was concerned about abuse or dementia because my mom wouldn’t speak without my permission.

Anyone ever experience this? How do I maintain my mother’s personal rights when she just trusts me to keep track of every medical thing? This is not the first doctor to show concern that I speak for her.

I so disagree with the previous answer.

Doctors are mandated to report abuse. A parent who is hesitant to speak their mind in front of a caregiver may be deaf, demented, abused, confused or something else. The doctor got the question out in the open. S/Didn't make assumptions. S/he asked for your opinion/interpretation about what was going on. 
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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I always offered to step out of the room so that my mother could speak to the doctor in private if she wanted to. She never did, but I continued to make it a point. It is crucial that your loved one has an opportunity to express things she may not want to say in front of you, otherwise you could be isolating her without the least intention of doing so.

This is a difficult issue. I too have spent my fair share of time making incredulous and horrified faces while mother assured the triage nurse that she was in good health, for example, told the disabled driver's badge people that she could walk a mile uphill, and managed inadvertently to convince a heart failure nurse that she was not significantly affected by her ejection fraction of 18%.

I think both you and your mother have done the important thing, which is to acknowledge the issue, the *potential* for abuse if you control all of your mother's communication. But your mother does rely on you to be her memory, and her doctors need to rely on you for accuracy. All you can do about it, really, is demonstrate that you get the point.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I had a neurologist ask me to let Mom answer his questions. He would ask her a question, she would answer and then he would look at me and I would tell him what I had seen or just shake my head no. After her first visit I started keeping a diary of sorts. Then I would type up the info and give it to the nurse when we went for next appt. The neurologist would ask Mom questioned based on my observations I also typed up a sheet with all her hospital stays and surgeries. Allergies, likes and dislikes. Every doctor got one and every hospital stay. I was told by a hospital staff member a neurogist was being called in. I asked who, Dr. So and So she said. I told her the paper I gave them lists Moms neurologist and he has privileges there! Why would you call in someone who doesn't know her!

I see where the doctor may be coming from. Can't evaluate a patient if they don't answer the questions. Let Mom answer good or bad and then give your opinion. Or ask to speak to the doctor privately at the end of the appt.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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I let my mother answer the doctor's questions, then jump in to supplement (and sometimes contradict) what my mother is saying. Often I direct my comments to my mother instead of the doctor, as in "don't forget to tell her about the fall in the bathroom last week."

I think some parents are naturally more dependent or deferential than others. My mother speaks for herself, although she's not always completely truthful, and she is somewhat forgetful.

Maybe try prompting your parent when she looks to you for answers, maybe just repeating the doctor's question or rephrasing it. Even though I add to or correct my mother's statements sometimes, I really can't speak for her. She's the one living in her body, so I do sometimes learn new things by listening to what she tells the doctor.
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Reply to CarlaCB
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Not only do I agree with Barb, CountryMouse, 97YearOldMom, Sue1957 and Ahmijoy, I fully respect their opinions, their experience, and their rights to state their own opinions.

From what I've observed, they're each experienced in elder care in a wide variety of areas and applications. They're intelligent, knowledgeable, compassionate, insightful, and their primary purpose here is to help.

And, their answers are not reactionary.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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We have been going in together for a couple of years now and our PA has been very good at asking wife the questions and letting me clarify anything that needed it. We would all go over her medications together and any special instructions.
When wife started showing signs of dementia it took two visits for him to see it and he immediately started the testing and when the results were in he completed the referral to the neurologist and has kept on top of it.
When I was assigned as her guardian I immediately took the order in and ask them to include it in her record. Once the supervising DR read the order and accepted it the only thing that changed was the PA would ask me the questions directly. He did acknowledge the order and said that we now that straightened out.
A few other DRs. staff did insist on wife answering the questions and provide the signature until they realized wife did in fact have a problem and defaulted to me. Most will still ask her a few questions which I feel is their way of tracking her degeneration.

No one has ever suggested any form of abuse and has allowed me to clarify questions or answers.
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Reply to OldSailor
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For the last twelve years, I have been the driver and helper for several elderly friends. I often discreetly leave a note with the receptionist when I check in the patient. That way, I feel that important issues can be addressed and it doesn't appear to the patient that I am speaking for them or being a "tattle-tale". I will mention things such as non-compliance on taking meds, falls, bowel or urinary issues. One time the doctor helped out by "prescribing" that my friend move up from pads to briefs to help with urinary incontinence. It helps to maintain the dignity of the patient and the friendship we share. By using a note, the doctor is able to better determine what the real picture is and make suggestions that come from him/her and the patient is confident that
the doctor is aware and has their best interests in mind.
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Reply to burdwatcher
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Silverbird, I've experienced this as well, since my father had a severe hearing loss and despite many visits to the same doctors, most didn't seem to remember to address him in a louder voice.

I kept quiet until Dad would look at me, then I'd repeat what the doctor or NP asked or said, sometimes making it a bit clearer if they were speaking in terms I knew Dad wouldn't understand. Eventually, most of them learned to speak louder after several visits.

I don't think it's unusual or indicative of subservience when a parent anticipates that a son or daughter will assist them with answering questions. And I've also seen that some medical personnel will "dumb it down" in anticipation that the elder isn't going to comprehend their level of conversation.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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I'm a doctor (pediatrician) and also the daughter who has done all the parent medical visits so I can speak a bit from both perspectives. As an MD, I can say that if someone (regardless of age!) other than the patient is present at a medical appointment, it's a clear signal to me that the patient might not be able to advocate for him/herself. It's not always obvious why that is, so I think the best thing to do is clarify it at the beginning on the visit- like 'Mom would like to speak for herself and I'm here to offer supporting history/details' or 'Dad doesn't hear well and since I'm his primary caregiver we'd like to make sure we both understand the plan for him.' As a daughter, I've had to ask for the same sense of clarity from Mom - 'What role do you want me to take in today's visit?' and 'Are you ok if I add details that I think might be important?'
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Reply to AnybodyOutThere
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Yes! And oh GOODNESS how frustrating that is too!

Wanting to gauge if she'd got better after a nasty infection, I asked my friend J if she could tell me the time - there was a large wall clock in the ward and I wanted to know if she could remember it was there, see it, and tell the time from it. Her daughter instantly chipped in "it's half past three." Great. That shot the fox.

But it is difficult to zip it. To *make* myself -

"Are you having any trouble walking, Mrs H?"
"Oh no, I hold onto things."
"Mmmmmmggggnnnnffffff...!!!!!"

- I cultivated a glazed stare at the ceiling, and crossed my eyes when something mother said was dangerously misleading. This worked pretty well but only because her GP knew the cues. If you never see the same doctor twice it can be more difficult to make it understood that your loved one's answers may need revision...🙄
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Reply to Countrymouse
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