Livestrong’s recent article entitled “5 Tips for Handling a Loved One's Medical Needs as They Age” gives us direction on how to assume the medical care of an aging parent or other loved one who can no longer make his or her own medical decisions.
- Prepare. Make certain that all your loved one's legal affairs are in order, while they're still healthy and able to make sound decisions. This means signing a health care proxy or power of attorney for health care. Ask an experienced elder law attorney to help them create a legal document that allows the proxy to talk to their loved one's healthcare team and to access medical records, if the loved one can’t make medical decisions for themselves.
Your loved one should also create a living will that describes specific medical treatments he or she may or may not want.
- Go with Your Loved One to Their Medical Visits. Plan to attend their doctor appointments together, even for those who aren't incapacitated.
- Make Certain that Info is Shared Among All Medical Providers. Don’t assume members of your loved one's medical team are communicating with each other. Keep track of tests, diagnoses and treatments and share the information with your loved one's health care providers. Compile a complete list of all over-the-counter and prescription medications, supplements and vitamins your loved one is taking to each office visit.
- Keep Your Loved One Engaged. Make sure that you understand your loved one’s values and wishes in any situation, so you can make the best decisions about their care. That may entail asking them to write down questions for the doctor before an appointment and having honest conversations with them about their condition and how it's impacting their quality of life.
This is especially important if you’re discussing hospice or palliative care. In managing their health care, you need to respect their wishes.
- Switch Doctors if You Need To. If your loved one's physicians don't return calls, seem to be in hurry and distracted during appointments or they dismiss the concerns of either you or your loved one, get a second opinion. If you have a disagreement with a medical provider about your loved one's treatment plan, schedule a separate appointment to discuss your issues.
Reference: Livestrong (Nov. 9, 2021) “5 Tips for Handling a Loved One's Medical Needs as They Age”