When you are assisting in the care of your aging parents or other elders, one of your primary responsibilities may be managing medical care. You may start by simply assisting with questions or problems your aging loved one has, such as going along when they talk with the doctor about a recommended surgery or analyzing Medicare options or coverage. As you become more involved in care, you may attend all doctor’s appointments or help to coordinate care.
Our professional patient advocates share their checklist for getting started in helping to manage your loved one’s medical care:
- Get organized. Pull together a medical history for your loved one and organize old records or files they have of past surgeries and other information. We suggest a personal health record system online as the easiest way to organize and access this information.
- Be “insurance-informed”. Find out what coverage your loved one has and get some basic information on the coverage. Make sure you have the contact information easily accessible. To learn more about the Medicare program, check out our Medicare 2012 Fact Sheet.
- Open the path to communication with providers. Ensure your loved one has the proper legal paperwork for you to help if he/she is incapacitated. Second, contact medical providers to find out what is required for your involvement now (or in the future), when your loved one has capacity but wishes for you to help. Most doctor’s offices will have a privacy form asking the patient to sign off for individuals who are permitted to receive information. Also, as you start to attend appointments, introduce yourself to providers and “pave the way”.
- Prepare for appointments. Prepare a list of questions, bring information on other appointments (medicine changes, etc.) and problems/concerns that have arisen. Do not speak for your loved one, but offer assistance in going through questions or concerns as he/she feels comfortable. In some cases, it helps to fax/send over some background information prior to the appointment.
How can an Aging Wisely professional patient advocate help you?
- Attending appointments and managing local care for long-distance caregivers
- Consulting with you on issues that arise, troubleshooting concerns and making referrals to high quality providers
- Crisis management
- Medicare analysis, insurance advocacy, navigating public benefits programs
- Much more! Contact us at 727-447-5845 for questions or click below:
We have lots of resources on our eldercare blog about hospitalizations and elders, patient advocacy, Medicare and more! You can sign up on our blog to get updates or get our monthly newsletter (below). In our next post, we’ll review some ongoing tips for managing medical care, including hospital stays.