When you care for someone in the home, you must also manage that person’s health care. This includes:
Choosing a good medical team
Keeping cost down
Arranging for medical appointments
Getting the best, least expensive medicines.
What the insurance rules are
Being an advocate for the person in your care.
Note: remember to keep asking questions until you completely understand what is wrong (diagnosis), the treatment, and the likely outcome (prognosis)
Remember: The patient is the senior partner in the patient doctor relationship.
In the end, medical decision making is in the hands of the person receiving care, the doctor, and the caregiver. Learn to take an active role and become an advocate for yourself and for the person in your care.
Long Rang Considerations
Find out how the person in your care feels about treatments that prolong life. RESPECT THESE VIEWS!
Help set up an advance directive and power of attorney for health care
Share decisions with the doctor and the care receiver and take responsibility for the treatment and its outcomes
Doctors must see a lot a patients per day
Some doctors have financial reasons for doing too little or too much for a patient
If the relationship with the doctor becomes unfriendly, find a new doctor
(Although we know in our area this can be a challenge. It is important to maintain a good relationship with the physician)
Respect the doctors time.
(You may need more that one visit to cover all issues)
If Medicare is the payer, ask if the doctor accepts Medicare.
PREPARING FOR A VISIT TO THE DOCTOR
Be prepared to briefly explain medical history
Take a list of questions in order of importance
Prepare a list of symptoms
Ask for written information on medical situation
Ask questions until you full understand what the doctor is saying!
NOTE: BE SURE SHOTS FOR TETANUS, FLU, AND PNEUMONIA ARE UP TO DATE.
AT THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE:
Tell the doctor what you hope and expect from the visit and any recommended treatment
If the doctor asks you to do something you cannot do…communicate this to the doctor, and come up with another plan.
Insist on talking about level of care that you believe is appropriate AND that agrees with the care receivers wishes
Ask about other options for tests, medications, and surgery.
Ask why tests or treatments are needed and what the risks are
Consider all options including pros and cons of “watchful waiting”.
Trust your common sense and if you have doubts, get a second opinion.
IF THE PERSON IN YOUR CARE IS NEAR DEATH
Because few doctors are trained to talk about death and the dying process with their patients, be prepared to begin the conversation
If the person in your care wants to die at home, say this clearly to the doctor. Request respite.
Be sure that any directives for healthcare for the person are available an prominently displayed
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE AGREEING TO TEST AND/OR TREATMENT
Why is the test needed
How long will it take? How soon will the results be in?
Is the test accurate?
It is painful?
Are there risks with the treatment? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
How long will the side effects last?
Make sure to plan if you will need extra assistance during this time
Are x rays really needed?
Will the doctor review the test report and explain it?
May a copy of the report be taken home?
If a test is positive, what course of action should be taken?
Is the condition going to worsen slowly or rapidly
What could happen if the person did not have the test?
How much does the test cost and is there a less costly one?