Being a Smart and Safe Patient

As a senior, you may feel like you are heading to doctor appointments more often than you did when you were in your 30s or 40s. It’s true – seniors do tend to visit medical professionals more often, though for good reason. Chronic conditions, like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and even dementia, are more manageable thanks to interventions from doctors, therapists, and nutritionists.

However, many visits to medical professionals and hospitals can leave seniors especially vulnerable to safety issues like medication mismanagement, hospital readmission, or even misdiagnosis. In order to protect yourself, or your senior loved one, it is important to become a smart and safe patient. Here’s how to get started.

Don’t Go Alone
When you head to your physician appointment or your physical therapy sessions, don’t go alone. Not only will a friend keep you company in the waiting room, but another set of ears to hear can also make complicated follow up instructions more manageable and less overwhelming. A companion can also advocate for you, asking questions or voicing concerns, especially when you are not feeling your best.

Don’t have someone to tag along to your next appointment? The team at CaringGivers can provide you with a friendly caregiver who can provide transportation, a friendly face, and advocacy for your next appointment.

When is the last time you updated your medication list? Do it monthly and keep a copy with you.

Bring Your Medication List
It is wise to keep an updated medication list with you during each physician appointment. Seniors tend to see specialists, in addition to their primary doctor, and prescribed medications can get out of hand quickly without proper communication. Stay as safe as possible by pulling out your medication list (include over-the-counter and any vitamins you take regularly) when a doctor is going to prescribe something new. This can prevent any unintended side effects or interactions that could make you feel sick, confused, or weak.

Discharge with Support
If you do end up in the hospital for an extended stay, it is crucial to return home with proper support. Seniors are especially vulnerable to hospital readmissions, as seniors are more prone to fatigue upon getting back home. Fatigue and deconditioning can lead to falls at home, as well as poor nutrition, dehydration, or even acute confusion.

Seniors returning home after an extended hospital stay should have family, neighbors, and other caregivers scheduled to assist with tasks like driving to/from follow up appointments, picking up prescriptions or adaptive equipment (walker, cane, oxygen, etc.), delivering nutritious and medically recommended food, helping with household chores, and assisting with daily hygiene tasks. Without proper support, you are at a higher risk for an emergency or another event that could lead you back into the hospital.

Be a safe patient by being a smart patient. You can have the support you need by partnering with the team at CaringGivers. Our caregivers can provide assistance with household tasks, socialization, exercise, meal preparation, hygiene tasks, and much more. Let’s develop a plan that helps you stay healthy and living at home for as long as possible.

 

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