Caring for Seniors of All Faiths


Top Tips to Effectively Advocate When an Older Loved One Visits the Doctor

Learn how to be an effective advocate when an older loved one visits the doctor.

Doctors’ appointments can cause a lot of anxiety, especially in older loved ones. Has overall health changed? Will there be any new procedures or testing done? Will new medications be prescribed? These questions and more may be swirling around in a senior’s mind prior to the visit. Additionally, when an older loved one visits the doctor, remembering what to ask, as well as what the doctor says, can feel overwhelming. For family caregivers, it is crucial to be an advocate when an older loved one visits the doctor. By advocating for an older loved one, you can be sure that the doctor hears all of a loved one’s concerns and you can record all of the doctor’s recommendations for treatment and care.

How Can I Best Advocate for My Loved One During Doctor Visits?

The following tips will help family caregivers serve as a health advocate for an older loved one to ensure they are receiving the best, most appropriate care for existing or new health conditions.

  • Prep for the appointment beforehand. A few weeks before the appointment, ask your loved one how they have been feeling. Are there any new issues? Has anything been bothering them lately? Write down their responses, as well as any new symptoms, concerns, or problems that you have noticed.
  • Bring something to take notes with. On the day of the appointment, make sure to bring a notebook or device to take notes with. Take notes during the appointment about any new conditions that the doctor notices and any new treatments or medications that are recommended. This can help you recall them later and explain to your loved one why certain decisions were made.
  • Explain any new issues or concerns. Use the list that you prepared prior to the visit and explain any new issues or concerns that you or your loved one has noticed. Make sure the doctor fully understands your concerns and examines your loved one accordingly.
  • Ask questions to gain a full understanding of treatments and potential side effects. If a new treatment or medication is recommended, make sure you clearly understand what the treatment is and what it is for. Some important questions to ask include:
    • How will this benefit my loved one?
    • What side effects should we watch for?
    • Will my loved one still be able to function independently?
    • What will happen if we choose not to do this treatment or take this medication?
  • Discuss any concerns about costs of treatment. If the cost of a recommended treatment or medication is a concern, discuss this with the physician. Free samples or discounts are often available.
  • Request that the senior receives a full medical checkup at least once a year. Having a full medical checkup at least once a year can help to ensure that all medications are working as expected. Make sure to take a full list of all prescription medications as well as any over-the-counter medicines and vitamins that the senior takes regularly.
  • Ensure that there is coordination between the whole healthcare team. Oftentimes, seniors see a number of specialists for various health reasons, in addition to their general practitioner. Unfortunately, these physicians rarely communicate with one another. Keeping track of what each doctor says will help you communicate with others on the healthcare team to ensure that there is a continuum of care.

Being an advocate is essential, but it can be challenging for family caregivers who work full time or who live at a distance from older loved ones. For those family caregivers, partnering with a professional in-home care provider can be a great help. At Jewish Family Home Care, we develop customized, RN-supervised care plans for each client, following any physician recommendations. Our RNs also provide a thorough care plan review every 60 days to ensure that we are meeting the needs of clients and that our caregivers are equipped to provide the exceptional care that we’re known for.

We offer a wide range of non-medical in-home care services that are designed to help older adults and their family caregivers. Our care team can provide accompaniment to doctors’ appointments, friendly companionship to ensure clients feel safe and supported, medication reminders to help improve medication adherence, and much more.

Jewish Family Home Care is an HCP Provider of Choice for five years running and a non-profit organization serving all faiths. We are dedicated to helping older adults in Hollywood, Sunrise, Coconut Creek, and throughout Broward County remain safe and healthy in the communities they love. Contact us online or call us at 954-908-5677 to learn more about our in-home care services.