April 20, 2012
Before your senior loved one returns home from the hospital, he or she will likely receive a list of scheduled and/or recommended follow-up medical appointments. In order to keep his or her recovery on track, it's imperative that you help make sure your senior gets to each and every appointment.
These medical follow-ups are critical for any necessary prescription updates, blood tests, incision and wound care, and follow-up X-rays and CT scans that help ensure your senior is on the right track.
Keep a large desk or wall calendar handy and write in follow-up visits using a bright colored ink such as red or green. It's also good to keep the appointment calendar by the phone so as new appointments are scheduled they can be easily added in.
Before going to the doctor's office or other follow-up appointment, make sure your senior has a current list of all prescriptions, over the counter medications and supplements they are taking. You should also make sure they have a list of any symptoms they are experiencing such as nausea, constipation, breathing difficulties, rashes, lack of appetite, etc.
Getting to the follow-up visits can also be a challenge. If your loved one can't drive, is in a wheelchair or has medical equipment that must be carried along (e.g., oxygen or IV) you may need to ask other family members, friends, local service agencies, private transport companies or home care providers to help out.
Once at the doctor's office, the National Transitions of Care Coalition advises that it's important for your senior to ask several questions including:
- Why am I meeting with a health care provider today?
- What medical conditions do I have?
- What else do I need to do?
- Should I see another health care provider?
- Do all of my doctors have my medical care or discharge plan?
- Who should I call if I have questions or problems?
- May I have a print out of any newly scheduled or upcoming follow-up visits?
Use this doctor's visit worksheet (PDF 600k) to keep track of the information you need both before and after your visit. You can also review this Patient-Doctor Communication educational video series for other helpful tips.
Helping your senior loved one stay on track with follow-up medical appointments can help make sure he or she recovers in a timely fashion and returns more quickly to a good quality of life.
Get helpful tips and articles like these delivered to your email.