Caregiver Hacks: For Stress-Free Doctor’s Visits

hack alertLast week in the Working Daughter Facebook group (Why haven’t you joined the conversation?), someone shared how liberated she felt when she started scheduling her parent’s doctor’s appointments based on her availability and her schedule. As someone who makes medical administrators a little crazy because of my travel schedule, my refusal to take a morning appointment (at 90, Dad doesn’t do early), and my frequent request to check availability at the doctor’s other office location too, I thought everyone did that. I should know better. You should never assume.

Caregiver Hacks for Stress Free Doctor’s Visits

With that in mind, I bring you 6 more hacks for stress-free doctor’s visit with your aging parent. (Who am I kidding? Follow these hacks for less stressful visits.)

  1. If your parent does do mornings, try to get the first appointment of the day. Alternatively, the first appointment after lunch is good too. It’s less likely the doctor will be running late at these times.
  2. Keep track of questions and concerns as you think of them on your smartphone so you can access them when you are at the doctor. This hack may seem obvious but so many caregivers think, “I’ll definitely remember to ask that.” And then they forget. Likewise, keep notes from the visit on your smartphone. Read them back to the doctor before the visit ends to make sure you captured everything you needed to.
  3. Keep these forms with you at all times: Healthcare Proxy, Do Not Resuscitate aka DNR (if appropriate, Power of Attorney (if appropriate), your parent’s insurance cards, and their list of medications. You don’t want to be looking for these as you head out to an appointment and you need them with you in case of an emergency trip to the hospital.
  4. Have the doctor’s office email you forms in advance of your appointment. Believe me this is transformational! In addition to the above forms, some medical offices will want you to fill out additional paperwork. Have them email them in advance so you can fill them out before you go because your chances of arriving early for an appointment with your elderly parent are worse than your chances of winning Powerball.
  5. Scan lab results or take a picture with your smartphone. Apparently, despite all the medical advances we’ve witnessed in recent years, doctor’s offices are still using snail mail, fax machines, and dot matrix printers. So you cannot assume that the gerontologist will be able to access the test from the lab or that the primary care doctor will have received the scans from the specialist. A simple iPhone photo of a lab result can be the difference between a productive visit and a total waste of time.
  6. Plan buffer time. Try to plan an extra hour or better yet, 90 minutes. That way, if your parent needs tests, you can get them done the same day. If they don’t make you can take them out for lunch or to run an errand.

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