Whether you are your elderly loved one’s caretaker or just want to make sure that your parent or grandparent is healthy, there are benefits to accompanying him or her to the doctor. Even if your elderly loved one is fairly independent, there may be some things that he or she fails to mention at the appointment.
Other times, the information that he or she receives can be complicated or difficult to remember, especially when getting a prescription. Here are some ways you can be helpful and some important questions to ask:
Be Careful Not to Take Over
When going to the doctor with your parent or grandparent, it may be tempting to be in control and share all the things that you notice about his or her health, but don’t take over (unless it’s absolutely necessary and you have that legal power).
Give your loved one a chance to answer questions on his or her own and then offer to fill in any missing information, concerns, or questions. If you have compiled a list of questions or other information, this is a good time to share it.
Asking Questions about Medication
Just as you should with your own medications, it’s important to ask questions about any prescription that is given to your loved one. Essential questions and concerns to address include:
- What is the drug prescribed?
- Is there a generic version?
- What does it do?
- What are any and all side effects?
- Is the medication dangerous?
- Can it interact with OTC drugs or other prescriptions?
- How should it be taken and how often?
- When will we notice an improvement?
Take careful notes, give a copy to your loved one, and keep one for yourself. When you pick up the prescription at the pharmacist, ask any follow-up questions and read the instructions before leaving the pharmacy.
Monitoring Your Loved One’s Medicine Cabinet
Once your loved one has started taking his or her prescription, go through his or her medicine cabinet to make sure any prescriptions or OTC drugs are safe to take with the new prescription.
If you find one that is potentially dangerous, remove it and ask a doctor or pharmacist if there’s a safer alternative. It’s also a good idea to keep tabs on how many pills your loved one is taking every day, especially if you are not a live in caretaker. A safe and easy way to monitor one’s pill intake is by putting medication in a daily organizer.
Be Aware of Any Dangers
Even if the doctors claims that a prescription is safe, take note of any physical, mental, or behavioral changes in your elderly loved one. Rather than stopping the medication abruptly, contact a doctor immediately.
Remember, if you don’t notice an improvement in your loved one while he or she is taking a new prescription, you have the right to a second opinion. Many medications need to be readjusted, changed, or monitored before finding an effective dosage.
Photo credit: Christian Langballe
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