If you are a caregiver, the most important item your older loved one can bring to a doctor’s visit is … YOU! It is really helpful for your older loved one to have an extra set of ears to hear what the doctor asks or says about your loved one’s condition, but it also allows a caregiver to ask questions that may not have occurred to your loved one. And frankly, there are a number of people “of an age” who just don’t feel comfortable questioning their physician – Doctor Knows Best, etc.
Well, now physicians are also bringing along a companion to the office appointment. Some hospital systems are adapting their own technologies to uses that are compatible with the Smartphone platform. There are still others that are available for doctors to use with their patients, and many of these are in the App Store. The next time you accompany a loved one to their medical appointment, as your physician about:
• Treatment Plan – an App that allows health care professionals to customize a treatment plan to your loved one’s condition. It allows the provider to formulate a specific treatment plan that can be sent to another Smartphone in order to track details once the patient returns home.
• Treatment Progress Indicator – Especially for conditions like anxiety, depression or other behavioral issues, it is important that the patient carries home the plan of action as well as a regular update using a diagnostic tool like a short form questionnaire to see that symptoms are resolving or that the patient is adherent with the medication.
• Physical Therapy To Go – Anyone who has been to medical visit with physical therapy as part of the at home recovery has seen the paper stick figure drawings of how the therapy is to work. Some of that can easily get lost in translation, and worse yet, are the recommendations that are verbal. They now have an App for video instruction on how the actual therapy is to work.
• Prescription Adherence – We have come a long way from the day of the week pill boxes. There are now reminders that can be uploaded to the patient’s phone (of the caregiver’s phone) to persistently remind the patient when it is time to take that pill. In some applications, it also will block taking a pill when it is not the right time.
There is a growing host of other Apps that physicians have at their fingertips that can help diagnose skin lesions or other dermatological issues. They also have Apps that can transmit photos of wounds from bed side in a nursing home in order to get informed recommendations from wound specialists to the bid side providers. And there will doubtless be even more as early as … well, tomorrow. Stay tuned.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, 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. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.