You have many responsibilities as you advocate for your aging parent. These responsibilities increase as your parents slow down physically and cognitively; you may now find them processing events and conversations much slower, and their comprehension diminished. As a result, things they once found easy to do can now be confusing and frustrating.
This can be of particular concern when it comes to their health. As a family caregiver, one of your primary concerns is to be an effective caregiver for your aging parent. Here are five tips to help you help them.
1. Designate one family member as the point of contact
You and your loved one’s healthcare providers will appreciate coordinating care with only one family member. The person designated needs to be added to all medical privacy forms and possess a legal “medical power of attorney,” which allows them to make any decisions concerning your parent’s treatment.
2. Attend appointments
Many aging adults become overwhelmed and exasperated when speaking with health care professionals. They often don’t understand the “lingo” being used concerning diagnosis and treatment, which can be particularly dangerous if they don’t fully comprehend their medications and their interaction with other drugs they’re taking. By being there, you can act as an intermediary and interpreter as necessary and keep their various doctors informed of current lab results, x-rays, etc.
3. Ask specific questions
You want to make your time with the doctor count. Write down particular areas of concern you have so you’re prepared in advance to talk about things like recent falls they’ve had, weight loss you’re noticing, or hearing difficulties. Discuss the appointment with your parent before you go and find out if there’s anything they’d like to ask – they may not think of it when they’re at the doctor’s office.
4. Obtain a Medical Health Care Directive
As they get older, your parents may not communicate their preferences regarding their treatment if they become ill. This document gives you the authority to speak on their behalf. Your loved one’s doctor or social worker can tell you what’s required, as