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Rule: No Solo Doctor Trips for Mom

Appointments are stressful and complicated for seniors -- and way too important to her happiness and good health.

· Aging Awareness

INCREASINGLY, approaching a doctor’s office gives me pause, as I wonder which extreme in 21st century medical service I’ll encounter when I walk through the door. Will it be:

--- The Starship Enterprise, with cameras and touchscreens and enough stored electronic chart data that each of the nurses I meet asks me about my son’s braces, my Michigan vacation and my dog Scooter?
--- Or Dr. Bennett’s Mayberry office, where we’ll chat about Aunt Bea for awhile as I fill out the same form I filled out two weeks ago and they copy my insurance info with a pen and chide me for not having my original Social Security card?

Either of these scenarios is no fun for your mom. Parking, finding the office, checking in and waiting are challenging even on a sunny day when you’re feeling well. By the time she’s interviewed and tested in a couple of lab rooms, it’s no wonder she’s a bit wobbly when the doctor appears.

That’s why it’s important for you — or a surrogate — to be there. To talk about the appointment ahead of time, ask helpful questions if your mom forgets, and write down the answers so she can focus on the doctor’s advice and instructions. These appointments are A Big Deal as our parents age, and successful outcomes to their health issues are critically important to their happiness.If it’s at all possible, we just can’t let them go alone, or be dropped off and picked up later.

It’s worth noting that more and more of my peers are frustrated at the frequency of appointments, and the necessity to take vacation days to cover them. “I’d love to go somewhere warm this spring, one said to me recently, “and I’m not talking about the radiation unit at UH.”

Of course you need to be there for the important appointments, but if you’re blowing vacation days when Thrive Westshore can step in and take great care of your mom — that’s malpractice.

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