Managing and navigating the healthcare system can be daunting enough for an adult, but for an aging adult, it can be a tremendous task. Couple this with the fact that they often can’t hear well, can’t see well, don’t always have all their faculties, and with the healthcare system, that is difficult for the best of us. Here are a few tips to help your aging parents navigate healthcare and good health as well!
- Attend all physician appointments with your parents. Take notes during the appointment and clarify any instructions, medication changes etc. Ensure that they have the needed transportation to appointments if you are unable to attend.
- Assist your parents with understanding any medical bills, and call the insurance company as needed for clarification on bills. Call healthcare providers as needed.
- Assist your parents with filling of pill boxes. Encourage them to take their medications as ordered, and report any side effects to their physician. Teach your parents to recognize their medications and encourage them to learn the names of their meds, uses, and most common side effects.
- Ensure that your parents are able to afford their medications. If they are unable to afford them, request samples from the physician and help them with applying for assistance from drug companies and for PAN (Patient Access Network) grants as needed. Monitor insurance statements to understand what stage your parents are in and if they are nearing the Med Gap (Donut Hole). Notify their physician for alternate drugs as needed.
- Educate your parents on their disease processes, signs and symptoms of exacerbation, treatment, and any red flags for calling their physician. Stress the importance of following the physician’s instructions.
- When needed, educate your parents on preparation needed for any surgical procedures and the details of the procedure to alleviate any fears they may have. Take them to the appointment and stay with them for as long as possible.
- Educate your parents on their diets as ordered by their physician, and reinforce the need for compliance to the diet. Assist them with grocery shopping as needed, in order to assess compliance with their diet and to observe if your parents can afford the needed food items.
- Assist your parents with starting an exercise program after checking with their physician about needed precautions. Encourage your parents to start out slowly and to pace themselves.
- If your parents struggle with technology, assist them with completing necessary online paperwork/forms for physicians, insurance companies etc.
If you are worried about your parents when you're not around, and they need assistance with the tasks of daily living, errands, or appointments, our traditional caregiving could be right for your family!
Written By: Care Manager - Pennelope Nunn