For various reasons many seniors don’t take advantage of their doctor’s appointments like they should. Not doing so can lead to adverse drug events, costly medical bills and other avoidable health problems that place their independence at risk.

If you’re looking after an aging in place senior loved one helping them maximize their doctor’s appointment is essential for their health and wellbeing. Here are some ways to ensure that your senior gets the most out of theirs.

Ask for Permission

Being a health advocate simply means that you are looking out for an older adult’s best interests so they can enjoy a better life. You’ll be learning as you go, so don’t get overwhelmed at first if it’s hard to understand everything about your senior’s health conditions.

One of the responsibilities of being a health advocate is assisting them with their medical matters, including how to maximize their doctor’s appointments. Especially at first, your loved one will still take the lead when speaking with the doctor. Your role will be to ask additional questions, take notes, or chime in when prompted to do so.

Start by respectfully asking your senior if they’ll allow you to help, and why you feel the need. If they are hesitant at first, let them know that you want to make the visits easier for them, and that you don’t want to take over. Once you’ve gotten their permission it’ll be time to get started!

Become Their Health Advocate

As their advocate here are some tips that will help ensure that your loved one gets the care they deserve:

Prepare ahead of time

A few weeks before your senior loved one’s next doctor’s appointment, ask them how they’ve been feeling and if they have any recent health concerns. In most cases, you’ll be able to obtain more reliable health information while your senior is relaxed and has the time to talk- rather than when they’re feeling pressured or rushed at the doctor’s office.

Take notes

It’s nearly impossible to remember everything a doctor says, so take lots of notes that you can refer to later. Writing down why certain medical decisions or medication adjustments were made will help you better understand them so that you can explain what you’ve learned with other interested family members and make better choices.

Seek periodic medication reviews

It’s always a good idea to bring all your loved one’s medications- including any over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and supplements- with you. Ask the doctor to do a full medication review at least one a year. Repeat this process whenever your senior goes to a specialist.

Research treatment options and side effects

Many seniors manage several chronic health conditions at once, and doctors sometimes make mistakes. Research your loved one’s health conditions, treatment options and medication side effects and don’t be afraid to ask questions based on what you’ve learned. If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing a drug interaction or side effect, you can also speak to their pharmacist.

Coordinate care within a medical team

Older adults usually see multiple doctors and specialists. Sometimes these doctors don’t communicate with one another like they should. Keep track of what each doctor says, along with any tests or medications they order. Share that information with all the doctors on subsequent visits so each one has the full story.

Discuss treatment costs

If your loved one can’t afford a costly treatment, their doctor may be able to help. Some doctors will discount their fees or provide free samples of expensive medications. Most drug companies also offer financial assistance programs once certain criteria are met. As a health advocate, don’t be afraid to discuss treatment costs and alternatives.

Add Us to Your Senior’s Medical Team

Helping an aging senior maximize their doctor’s appointment is hard when you’re busy or live far away. When you need assistance contact Help at Home. One of our carefully screened, highly experienced health professionals will be happy to monitor your senior’s medications, sit in on their doctor’s appointments and even take notes when you’re not there. While serving as an extended family in the home, our caregivers use a unique approach that’s all about earned trust, professionalism and personal attention.

While restoring your peace of mind our compassionate caregivers can deliver affordable in-home services like personal care, respite care, companion care, transitional care, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, and even end-of-life care. To learn more about Help at Home now, or to contact us today about a senior in Maryland, Virginia or the Washington, DC, metro area, please visit:!