Doctor follow-ups are an important part of recovering from a hospitalization and can provide support and encouragement for a family caregiver as well.
Before your senior loved one leaves the hospital, you'll likely receive a list of scheduled and/or recommended follow-up medical appointments. These medical follow-ups are critical for certain care needs such as necessary prescription updates, blood tests, incision and wound care, and follow-up X-rays and CT scans that help ensure your senior is on the right track.
We suggest keeping a large desk or wall calendar handy and writing in follow-up visits using a bold colored ink. It's also a good idea to keep the appointment calendar by the phone so as new appointments are scheduled they can be easily added in.
Keep Tabs on Symptoms and Medications
Before going to the doctor's office or other follow-up appointment, make sure a loved one has a current list of all prescriptions, over the counter medications and supplements they are taking. You should also make sure they have a list of any symptoms they are experiencing such as nausea, constipation, breathing difficulties, rashes, lack of appetite, etc.
Getting to the follow-up visits can also be a challenge. If your loved one can't drive, is in a wheelchair or has medical equipment that must be carried along (e.g., oxygen or IV) you may need to ask other family members, friends, local service agencies, private transport companies or home care providers to help out.
Take a notebook with you to the doctor's office. Once there, the National Transitions of Care Coalition advises that it's important for an older adult to ask several questions including:
- Why am I meeting with a health care provider today?
- What medical conditions do I have?
- What else do I need to do?
- Should I see another health care provider?
- Do all of my doctors have my medical care or discharge plan?
- Who should I call if I have questions or problems?
- May I have a printout of any newly scheduled or upcoming follow-up visits?