How can I keep up with my mom’s medical care? I don’t know where to start.

May 14, 2013 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Healthcare experts recommend that you start by learning as much as you can about your parent’s illness, its likely course, and current treatments. This information will be essential as you help your parent and the primary caregiver cope with day-to-day concerns, make decisions, and plan for the future. You can do this by discussing your  mom’s diagnosis with your own healthcare provider or gathering reliable health information. Contacting a government agency, like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), or visiting its website, www.nih.gov, is a good way to find information you can trust. When you visit your parent, consider going along on a doctor’s appointment—first check that your parent does not mind having you there. You must have your parent’s permission to have any conversation with his or her doctor or to discuss healthcare bills with Medicare or other health insurance.

Ask your parent to complete a release form that allows the doctor to discuss his or her medical care with you. Be sure the release is up-to-date and that there’s a copy in your parent’s medical records, in addition to keeping a backup copy for your files.   Some long-distance caregivers say that making a separate appointment with a doctor allows them to seek more detailed information and answers to questions. You might have to pay for these appointments yourself. Or, see if the doctor will agree to provide email or telephone updates to you or other family members who live out of town

See more Q&A on Long Distance Caregiving here.

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