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#14 – My dad lives in Durham, NC. I’m accompanying him on his medical appointment. How do I make best use of our time?

Click here to see the prior item in this series:  How do I evaluate health information online?

14 – I’m visiting my dad for a week, and he has asked me to come along on his medical appointment. How can I make the most of this visit with his doctor? I don’t want to waste the doctor’s time.

If you go with your parent to see the doctor, here are a few tips that will help you be an ally and an advocate:

  • Bring a list of questions, starting with what is most important to you and your parent, and take notes on what the doctor recommends. Both the questions and the notes you write down can be helpful later, either to give information to the primary caregiver or to remind your parent what the doctor said.
  • Before the appointment, ask your parent, the primary caregiver, and your siblings if they have any questions or concerns they would like you to bring up.
  • Bring a list of ALL medicines and dietary supplements your parent is taking, both prescription and over-the-counter, and include the dosage and schedule. If your parent sees several different doctors, one may not necessarily know what another has prescribed.
  • When the doctor asks a question, let your parent answer unless you have been asked to do so.
  • It’s easy to get into a two-way conversation between the doctor and yourself—try not to do this.  Always include both your parent and the doctor when you talk.
  • Respect your parent’s privacy, and leave the room when necessary.
  • Talk to the doctor about how you can keep up-to-date on your parent’s health since you live out of town.
  • Ask the doctor to recommend helpful community resources.
  • Larger medical practices, hospitals, and nursing homes may have a social worker on staff. The social worker may have valuable suggestions about community resources and other information.
  • If you are worried that your parent might be depressed, you might want to discuss this with the doctor before the appointment. Depression is not a normal part of aging. Emotions like sadness, grief, and temporary “blue” moods are normal, but continuing depression that interferes with daily living is not okay. Yet, even some health professionals seem to think it is a normal response to the illnesses and other problems that can happen as we grow older.
  • Make sure the doctor is taking action in response to your concerns.

Click here to see the next item in this series:  How can I be sure my father’s caregiver isn’t mistreating him or taking his things?

Acorn wishes to acknowledge the National Institute on Aging for this valuable content.

 

Within Acorn’s service area of Chapel Hill, Durham and surrounding areas in North Carolina (Hillsborough, Pittsboro, Morrisville, Cary, and Apex) the following resources may be especially helpful:

  • Orange County Department on Aging, 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516, (919) 968-2070
  • Durham Center for Senior Life, 406 Rigsbee Avenue – Suite 202, Durham, North Carolina   27701, (919) 688-8247
  • Chatham County Council on Aging, 365 North Carolina 87, Pittsboro, North Carolina   27312, (919) 542-4512
  • Triangle J Area Agency on Aging, 4307 Emperor Boulevard
- Suite 110, Durham, NC 27703, 919-558-2711
  • Resources for Seniors (Wake County), 1110 Navaho Dr.  – Suite 400, Raleigh, NC 27609, 919-872-7933