When Your Parents Live at Home, Who HelpsWhen Your Parents Live at Home, Who Helps with Doctor Visits? with Doctor Visits?

If your parents are like most, they don’t want to talk about moving. Aging in place is the most popular living arrangement for seniors, and 87% of adults 65 and older say they want to remain in their own homes. The key to making aging in place work is making sure your parents stay safe and healthy, and that may include finding someone to help your parents with doctor appointments.

Hiring a reliable caregiver can ensure that your parents make it to their visits, have notes on the doctor’s treatment plan and prescriptions, book follow-up appointments, and keep you in the loop if you can’t go with them because of distance or your work schedule. Even if you’re available some of the time, it’s a good idea to have qualified help lined up for the times when you’re sick, stuck at work, or otherwise unable to go with your folks.

Many in-home care agencies offer transportation to appointments and family updates as part of their services. Before you entrust a caregiver with your parents’ appointment management, here are some questions to ask.

Will your parents’ caregiver go with them to appointments?

This is a service many home-care agencies and private caregivers offer. You’ll need to ask if the caregiver will wait with your parents, and you’ll need to ask your parents if they’re comfortable having the caregiver join them for at least part of the appointment to take notes on the doctor’s recommendations.

Who is responsible for making medical appointments?

You and your parents will need to decide who’s in charge of making appointments. Your parents’ caregiver may be able to help with this task by making phone calls and sending emails.

How will appointment and care information be shared?

You, your parents, their caregiver, and their doctors will need to figure out how best to share appointment information. Can you all receive reminders from the doctor’s office via text, email, or automatic phone call? Will you use a paper or online calendar to keep track of appointments, tests, and follow-up visits?

Your parents may need to give written permission to each doctor to allow their caregiver and you to get updates on the information shared in visits, like new treatment recommendations, lifestyle recommendations, and prescription changes. Make sure your parents are OK with this and that the caregiver is, too.

Who will handle prescription pickups and refills?

It’s important to designate someone to handle refills and pickups ahead of time so your parents aren’t stuck without medicine they need.

What’s the plan for getting help in an emergency?

Does the caregiver’s agency have an emergency plan? Under what circumstances will your parents’ caregiver call 911? When will you be notified of sudden illness or emergency? Spelling these things out at the beginning of the arrangement can make difficult situations easier later on.

You’ll also want to make sure that whoever cares for your parents has a valid drivers’ license (and auto insurance if they’re driving their own car), a clean driving record, a clean background check, and good references. If you’re working with an agency, ask if they handle those checks themselves. You can learn more about choosing in-home senior care services at SeniorAdvisor.com.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

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