As the aging process continues and bodies become weaker, doctor’s visits become more common.  Communication with doctors, especially when referrals are made for specialist care, can be tricky. Good communication can be vital to choosing and obtaining optimal courses of treatment and good care.  Here are some things to consider that can help.

Often hearing and vision can become barriers to communication as we age.  It is crucial during medical appointments to be able to hear and understand what is being said.  It doesn’t help that many medical staff are trying to communicate with patients through masks nowadays.   If either hearing or seeing has become a problem, having someone at those appointments with good vision and hearing is absolutely necessary.  This person can relay information either to the patient or the patient’s family so that adherence to treatment is possible and good medical decisions can be made.

Having good, reliable ways for doctor’s offices to give follow-up information is extremely important.  Give cell phone numbers as well as land-lines and allow for messages (that can be retrieved) to be left on a machine.  Provide multiple ways for the office to reach the patient or the patient’s caregivers if possible.  Choose multiple ways:  email, text, address, and phone.  Since this information could change, always make sure that the information is up-to-date and do not rely on office staff to insure that this happens.  Do not hesitate to contact either the referring physician or the referral physician if they do not respond with an appointment or test results within a timely manner.

If the patient has a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) form, this form should be prominently displayed in the patient’s dwelling.  Sadly, the form is often buried somewhere in the patient’s files and at the time when it is needed, the patient’s wishes go unheeded.  Always display these forms in a very prominent spot such as taped to a wall in the kitchen or on the refrigerator.

As good as health care workers’ communication may be, taking the above steps to ensure the older adults understands the information being presented is of great importance. Having multiple eyes and ears on patient care and taking steps to provide for good communication can help prevent problems.

If you are concerned about an aging or disabled loved one, feel free to call us. We can provide a companion or even a skilled nurse to go with your loved one to their doctor’s appointments. Alternatively, if you would like professional care management, we can refer you to excellent Aging Life Care Managers. We’ve been around for 25 years and know the best to refer to you.