Doctors and hospitals, even the very best, are neither infallible nor omniscient. Moreover, since they see you only from time to time, none has as intimate and up-to-date knowledge of your own body as you do.
That’s why, to ensure proper care, everybody needs a healthcare advocate. And why the older you are – with more health issues, more different doctors and doctor visits, and more prescriptions– the more you need one.
Your healthcare advocate can be a family member, a friend, a volunteer from your religious congregation, or a social worker. It can be a patient advocate from a hospital or Medicare Advantage Plan (though most are there for you at the time of discharge from a hospital, residential rehab center or skilled nursing facility, rather than continuously). It can be a nonprofit advocacy organization or a professional healthcare advocacy consultant.
Or it can be you yourself. After all, who knows your body better than you do?
Here’s what a healthcare advocate does:
- Research the diagnosis. Become really informed about the condition. That way, you’ll know more about what to expect, what warning signs to look out for, and when to take action.
- Read all the fine print, especially those pages of microscopic type listing all those side effects. Though many if not most of those side effects are improbable, they’re all possible.
- Record your medical history. Though many hospitals, HMOs and PPOs maintain computerized records of your clinical notes and test results, not all do. And not all specialists are linked into the system. So after each appointment with your primary care physician or a specialist, make sure to get a printout summarizing the visit, changes in your condition, changes in medication, etc.– and to make sure each doctor sends a copy to the other physicians seeing you.
- Prepare for all your doctor and test appointments. Write down all your questions in advance, and if there are lots of them, as for extra time when you make the appointment.
- Take notes and bring a second pair of ears. Notes will help you remember what you hear. Someone else in the examining room – a spouse, for example – could hear important things that you might miss. Better yet, download a recording app on your smartphone and record the visit. Make sure to ask the doctor if that’s okay, and if it isn’t, maybe you should change doctors.
As holistic senior care providers, Senior Insights thoroughly assesses your medical, mental and emotional condition. As part of our managed senior care, we monitor your health weekly to keep current as it changes over time. We communicate any health changes to your medical providers. We’ll coordinate and accompany you to your doctor appointments to share your latest health information and to be that all-important second set of ears in the doctor’s office.
A free 30-minute consultation with us can be a great first step towards putting some healthcare advocacy in your corner.