I am off at the end of this week to take my mother to an appointment with an ankle specialist. The visit will between me, my mother and the doctor; all of us will want an opportunity to be heard. Mom will go with her list of complaints, problems and past medical history and I will go armed with my observations and questions about treatment options. The doctor will listen (hopefully) and arrive at his recommendations. We could call this the Caregiving Triad.
Mom has been struggling along with an arthritic ankle that has become so painful that she now has a limited quality of life. She is in a great deal of pain and walking has become agony for her. She is exhausted much of the time because of the effort required to accomplish her daily routine. Pain medication does little and being off of the ankle is about the only relief she has which leads to a lot of sitting around!
So, off we go this Friday to see what her options are.
I think things are going to come down to a choice between an ankle replacement and an ankle fusion. I want to go to the appointment prepared with the information that I can gather about these two procedures so that I can discuss them intelligently. We all have a role to play at the appointment to assure a good outcome from the visit.
Each participant in the visit has the right to be treated with fairness, respect and courtesy; not only my mother and me, but the doctor also. Our conversation should be one of mutual respect where we each listen to what the other has to say and consider that information thoughtfully.
It is our responsibility to share fully and truthfully with the doctor the clinical picture so that he has the best information to guide him in making his treatment recommendations. If we do not clearly communicate the problem, we can’t expect him to offer the ‘best’ treatment option. It is then the doctor’s responsibility to lay out the options, explain them fully, and then offer a recommendation with some reasoning or justification for why he has come to that conclusion.
It is then our Triad Duty, to discuss what will be the best treatment option for my mother. Mom needs to weigh in on her opinions and should not be afraid to say ‘no’. We should ask all of the questions that we have and the doctor should address any concerns that might be expressed.
Collaboration is the key!
If you are helping your parent with medical visits, you should be getting this sense of collaboration from the physicians that you see. Work with them by: preparing your questions and concerns prior to the appointment so that you can communicate them concisely; asking questions if you do not understand (don’t just pretend you get it!); listening closely to the instructions, explanations and recommendations; and knowing, when you leave the appointment, what the treatment plan is! And don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you are having concerns about the treatment recommendations.
I know that Mom and I will have a productive visit this week. My goal for the appointment is to come out with a treatment plan in place that all parties agree on together. But, my ultimate goal is to advocate for my Mom in regaining her quality of life!
On the journey with you…….Kathy
Kathy Eynon is an Eldercare Coach and Consultant that works with those struggling to cope with the demands of caring for an aging parent. She can be reached by email at: Kathy@ParentCareAlliance.com.