In past postings I have talked a good deal about the importance of exercise for seniors who need care and their caregivers. And it is a proven medical fact that exercise is good for us in so many ways – physical and mental. As a geriatric care manager, however, I find that a lot of the older adults with whom we work do not exercise their voices enough – at least not with their doctors. A lot of folks think that they don’t know what to ask about their medical conditions or they don’t want to appear to be questioning the doctor who has all those degrees and certifications. Well, caregivers and older adults need to exercise their voices as their own advocates:
- For every appointment with a provider, bring a list of questions about the medications, anything that may be different or just about what to know to be as healthy as possible.
- Ask even it may feel embarrassing. Doctors and other providers are used to talking about urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, prostate problems and everything else.
- Write down the answers to your questions. There may be a lot of information shared, and you want to make sure you can really process that information later when everyone is back at home.
- If your loved one is not sure about how to “follow doctor’s orders,” ask. That way, your older loved one will be able to make changes that improve their health once they are back home.
What kinds of questions can be addressed with your older loved one’s provider? Well, just about everything is part of the whole health picture, like:
- Psychological well-being – has your loved one talked about being really sad or blue lately – ask what can be done.
- Stress – have the worries of the day begun to intrude on a good night’s sleep, gotten in the way of their usual appetite? – talk about it.
- Falls and balance – has your loved one seemed unsteady or have you noticed bruises? – ask them to bring it up to their provider.
- Medication side effects – or maybe your loved one just does not feel quite right with nausea, light-headedness, dizziness, and such – ask about it.
- Exercise – Your loved one does not have to be in training for a marathon, but exercise for seniors feels better and allows one to do better – so ask the doctor.
- Sleep in general – it may not be stress that is taking away a good night’s sleep, but the doctor may have suggestions – ask about it.
And at the end of the day, everything begins to feel better once it is out in the open, so just the mere act of talking about a worrisome health issue may make it a lot easier to deal with everything.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.