Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease requires careful planning and consideration, especially when it comes to medical appointments.
—Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease requires careful planning and consideration, especially when it comes to medical appointments. Even helping an aging parent with medical visits can be challenging with so many different health record portals and not all systems or providers talk to one another.
In this week’s episode, I’m sharing 10 Tips for Preparing for a Primary Care Medical Visit.
1. Create a Medical Information Folder or Binder:
Organize important information, including a list of medications, medical history, and any allergies.
Organize all of your After Visit Summaries from your provider(s)/ specialist(s) after your appointments – you can keep these as far back as a year; then move them over to another binder and keep them in a safe place in case you ever need them again.
Keep a front section with abbreviated notes about all medical encounters in chronological order.
Separate each section with a tab so you can find information easily.
2. Maintain a Daily Journal:
Important information to track daily includes taking all medications (or reasons why taking medications has been challenging); daily or weekly weights with dates/ times taken (along with other vital signs); meal intake percentages; sleeping patterns; physical activity patterns; and a log of the person’s behavior, symptoms, and any changes in their condition.
Keep an on-going list of questions that come up each day (or week) to ask your provider.
3. Schedule Appointments at the Best Time:
Choose appointment times when the person with Alzheimer’s is usually more alert.
Avoid scheduling times when they typically experience sundowning (increased confusion and agitation in the late afternoon and evening).
4. Bring a Companion or Record the Visit as a Memo on Your Phone:
Have another family member or friend accompany you to the appointment.
This person can provide support, take notes, and offer comfort to the individual with Alzheimer’s.
Record your visit so you can listen to it later to make sure you understood everything that was said.
5. Prepare a List of Questions:
Before the appointment, review your list of on-going questions and write down the questions or concerns with your most pressing questions listed first.
By doing this, you won’t forget important questions and helps to make sure all of your questions were answered.
6. Be Ready for Behavioral Changes:
Individuals with Alzheimer’s may exhibit challenging behaviors during medical visits.
If you sense a problem arising, stop and think through the C3P Problem-Solving Framework (Change the Person, People or Place – listen to the full episode for more details on this) and see if you can identify the reason and fix it before the behavior becomes difficult to manage.
Inform the doctor if you anticipate any specific issues and discuss strategies to address them.
7. Bring Comfort Items:
Pack items that provide comfort to the person, such as a favorite blanket, a book, a family photo, or a playlist of calming music.
8. Update Emergency Contact Information:
Make sure the doctor’s office has the right phone numbers & updated emergency contact information for both you and the person with Alzheimer’s.
Provide clear instructions on how to reach you in case of any issues.
9. Communicate Changes in Function:
Report any changes in the person’s cognitive or physical abilities since the last visit.
Let the doctor know if the person can’t do things they used to do.
This helps the doctor understand how the disease is going, will be better able to guide you about what to do next, and make necessary adjustments to the care plan.
10. Know the Plan for Follow-Up Care:
Talk about what comes next, like when to come back or what tests are needed.
Make sure you know what to do next to take care of the person if you were at that visit for a particular problem.
Discuss and schedule any necessary follow-up appointments, tests, or referrals.
Ensure you understand the next steps in the care plan and ask for written instructions if needed.
Remember, communication is key. Maintain an open and honest dialogue with the doctor, sharing both positive and challenging aspects of caregiving. This collaboration can lead to better care for the individual with Alzheimer’s.
Free Handout: https://melissabphd.com/10tipsmedicalvisits/