As with everything in life, communication is key. Without it there’s the assumptions, misgivings and perceptions that derail any sort of connection whatsoever. But what about when it comes to health issues? Caring for a loved one whether hands on or simply pop in visits to maintain a general presence in their life means you will be running into a very specific set of people.
In my skill-set language, it’s the Care Team–the people involved with keeping your loved one in the best shape possible. There are some standard professionals that regardless the aging issue are present in a persons life, or will be present. Knowing who they are and what they do will give you an idea of who to reach out to for what if ever needed.
The Primary Doctor, this is the main Doctor who one goes to for the common cold and general things. It’s also the one who referrals come from, you will always have a follow up appointment with this one post surgery or an emergency room visit. In the managing of chronic illness this doctor will oversee all of it, and is one of the best places for records of all issues.
The Specialists, yes a Primary Dr. may oversee the chronic illness of your loved one, but anymore we all are sent to Specialists for our health issues. It isn’t a bad thing, as a matter of fact often I find with the aging because of no driving ability they don’t have specialists in place, when they really need them. When it comes to certain testing and surgeries your loved one and their records will be with this doctor. The best habit to get into here is have all information from each visit be sent to the primary dr. so you still have one main source for all information if ever required.
The Insurance people, when it comes to questions about benefits, be it health coverage, financial or end of life issues always check the insurances your loved one has. These are the go to people who will answer the questions provided you have the permission to access it.
Community Resources, Meals on Wheels, Adult Day Centers, any programs that may be in place are what we in the field call community resources. Even churches are in this grouping. Adult children usually aren’t aware of these resources until a need is present, yet often a community center that has senior meals, events even things like Bingo can be included. A parent can be participating in one thing not realizing the wealth of information and help available down the hall. This is always the people you want to speak to when concerns for your parents are rising. They can direct you to those who can specifically help your situation.
The neighborhood people, as time goes on and your parents are starting to have some issues who can you turn to just to find out more information? Try your parents neighbors and the mailman. Think about it, when it comes to habits of a lifetime those who live and drop in daily (like mailmen) are usually the first to notice changes of decline. Simply stop and ask them. It’s not unusual to do so and if you want a non emotional quick view of changes that maybe your parents are minimizing, ask those who are privy to viewing the situation from a close proximity.
Having a general know-how of who to reach out to, who and what the names of professionals you may be hearing about will help you feel less clueless and overwhelmed if your parents ever need you to step in even briefly. I’m always of the belief better to have knowledge and never need it, then need it but not know it.
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