aging parent

How to Be a Health Advocate for Your Aging Parent

If you have an aging parent, it’s normal to be worried about their health.

And if you recently stepped into the role of the caregiver for a parent with a health issue, you’ve also become their health advocate–whether you realize it or not.

It’s important to take your role for your parent seriously. Here are 5 ways you can be the best health advocate for your senior.

5 Tips to Being an Awesome Health Advocate for Your Aging Parent

1. Prepare for Appointments

When you have an aging parent, you’ll want to prepare for doctor’s appointments ahead of time.

A few weeks before taking your parent to an appointment, begin talking with them about how they’ve been feeling. Be sure to ask if anything is bothering them or causing them pain.

This will help you get more information, since everyone is in a relaxed setting and has time to think.

Additionally, write down questions, concerns, problems, or new symptoms. That way you can remember important issues and any details that you want to bring up during the appointment.

2. Take Notes

No matter how hard you try, it’s pretty impossible to keep everything the doctor says in your head. It’s even harder to try to remember all that was mentioned down the road months later.

To be an awesome health advocate for your aging parent, you’ll need to take notes at each appointment.

This will help you and your senior understand why certain decisions were made or what the doctor said.

3. Keep Everyone on the Same Page

When the doctor answers questions, make sure you and your parent both understand what’s being said. This will help to keep everyone on the same page.

Never be afraid to ask, “what does this or that mean exactly?”

After all, a big part of a doctor’s job is to make sure the patient and the patient’s family understand and are kept in the loop. So, don’t be embarrassed to keep asking questions until you really understand your senior, their doctor, and their health.

If you don’t speak up and ask, the doctor will simply assume that you already know.

4. Understand All Options

Many aging adults or seniors live with chronic health conditions.

In order to be a good health advocate for your parent, you’ll need to not only clearly understand the condition, but also the treatment options and the side effects.

This will help keep your aging parent in better overall health.

Here are some key questions you can ask about current or future treatments, in order to be able to fully grasp all the info:

  • What is or will be the added benefit of this treatment?
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatment?
  • Will the treatment affect my parent’s ability to function independently?
  • What are the possibilities or consequences if we choose not to do this treatment?

5. Ask For a Full Medication Review Annually

As a health advocate for you aging parent, you should ask the doctor to do a full medication review, at least once a year.

This will check to see if all the medications are working well together. Additionally, it will help to ensure that the medications are being taken at the right times and in the right combinations, and if they’re all still necessary.

The best way to prepare for a full medication review is to bring the actual bottles of everything your parent takes. This includes more than just prescriptions. You’ll also want to bring in non-prescription drugs and vitamins.

How do you help your aging parent maintain their health? Tell us your tips and tricks in the comments!

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