You can help your parents receive better care from their doctors
Doctors are in short supply and the situation is not going to change anytime soon.
If seniors already have a doctor, it was unlikely that another doctor will take them on; even if the seniors are not pleased with the current care they are receiving.
Doctors do not want to take on patients with chronic conditions because they take too much time.
And there are few seniors who do not have at least one chronic condition.
It was suggested that seniors could go to walk-in clinics.
However, I believe that seniors need a doctor who is following their overall health, especially as they age.
At walk-in clinics seniors would be seen by the doctor working at that time.
It is at this point of frustration that some seniors or their families start to use the hospital emergency department as a doctors’ office
It is helpful if the seniors’ doctors make calls to assisted living and residential care residences and have hospital privileges.
This is especially important if the seniors do not have families who live close by to take them to doctors’ appointments.
It is absolutely necessary that families do their part in making doctors’ appointments effective and efficient.
It must be frustrating for doctors who want to give the best care possible to seniors, only to have seniors walk into their office by themselves, unable to clearing communicate what is bothering them.
Chances are that the appointments will already be complicated because the seniors have a vision and/or hearing impairment. It is not unusual for seniors to be seeing five or more doctors.
All of the doctors need to be kept updated on what chronic conditions the seniors have and the current medications they are on.
Doctors cannot be sure if the seniors understand what they are telling them or if the follow-up that is required will be done properly, if at all. Families need to be in the room with the seniors during doctors’ appointments.
They should give the doctors a complete list of all of the other doctors that the seniors are seeing, for what reasons and a complete list of all past and current medications they are taking.
The list should include all surgeries and dates of the surgeries and all chronic conditions. Families should be able to concisely explain to the doctors the reason for the current visit.
Doctors can then examine the seniors and speak with them, knowing that the families are hearing the discussion and will do their part by completing the necessary follow-up.
When families are not available to be with their parents, part of my services includes taking over this important role for the families.
Appointments do not have to be frustrating for doctors, or scary, confusing and intimating for seniors.
Doctors might feel that the appointments were a waste of time for both them and the seniors.
If doctors’ appointments become more efficient and effective, more doctors may take on elderly patients, more families would get involved and proper follow though would be done.
Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for seniors in Kelowna.