Make a resolution to get your elderly loved one to the doctor early this year, but don’t go unprepared. The Mayo Clinic has great suggestions for how you can make the most of those appointments such as information you should provide to the doctor as well as questions you should take with you.
Make sure you schedule appointments when your elder is generally at her or his best. Remember, many elders have a more difficult time as the day wears on so going to the doctor after work to avoid “sundowning” syndrome when they are likely to be more confused and irritable. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “as many as 20 percent of persons with Alzheimer’s will experience increased confusion, anxiety and agitation beginning late in the day,” usually around dusk.
Write down the issues you want to discuss with the doctor. Take a few minutes to note any changes you have seen in your loved one. Has he been more confused lately? Has she been sporadic about eating? “Your insight might be the critical factor in determining what’s best for your loved one,” Mayo Clinic experts say. So don’t hold back; honesty about issues — even ones that might be embarrassing such as bedwetting or sexually acting out — will help physicians determine what is going on.
Take a notepad so you can take notes on what the doctor says and any suggestions she might have for your senior. Many doctor’s appointments can be emotionally taxing because you might hear what is hard to reconcile — that your parent or spouse is getting worse instead of better — so take notes so you can go back to them later when your mind has quieted.
Definitely ask for help and referrals. It might be time to make an appointment with a specialist or a memory center. Physicians with many elderly patients might have good information on community resources such as an Area Agency on Aging that can help you come up with an escalating care plan.
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