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Help for Caregivers: Talking to your Parent's Doctor

January 29, 2013

As an adult family caregiver, you're probably very concerned about the quality of medical care your parent receives. This may be especially true when you’re caring for someone who has significant problems with mobility and requires the daily assistance of a power wheelchair to safely move about within their home.

Talking with your loved one’s doctor and getting the answers to important health-related questions, may provide you with necessary insights into maintaining your aging parents' health and quality of life

Helping your parents stay independentPrivacy and Your Parent’s Protected Health Information

Personal health information is protected by law.  Permission must be granted before any health care practitioner can discuss private matters of health with someone other than the patient. This includes the primary family caregiver.

So, first ask your parent if it's okay to talk with their doctor.  Ask if you may go along with them on their next office visit, and make certain the doctor documents you have continual permission to receive protected health information on your parent's behalf.

Questions Caregivers Should Ask the Doctor

Whether it’s medicines taken, frequent stumbling, or the need for a power wheelchair and mobility accessories, caregivers should ask questions that will clarify the doctor's goals and reasons for treatment. Here are some examples:

  • What is the diagnosis or condition?
  • What medications have been prescribed and why?
  • What side effects/adverse interactions are possible?
  • What options are available if the proposed treatment fails?
  • How can your loved one’s care at home be improved? (stair lift? medical alert? home aide?)
  • What specific symptoms or behaviors should you report to the doctor? (pain; dizziness; falls?)

Help for caregivers is available from many sources. Hoveround provides the best mobility solutions for improving the quality of life for adults with limited mobility and their families. Call us toll free at 800-542-7236 for more information.

AARP.org Caregiving Resource Center, “Questions to Ask the Doctor”
Details on protected health information (PHI), medical privacy regulations and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) may be viewed at the Department of Health and Human Services, HIPAA & Health Information Privacy website

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as offering medical advice.

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