A Guide to Caring for Aging Family Members


In her PennLive article above: Not asking doctors questions can lead to medical errors–Linda Rhodes shares a statistic that eight of ten doctors find it helpful when a patient brings someone along to appointments. They welcome a second set of ears, find it reassuring when someone is taking notes, and are glad someone is showing up and asking questions. Doctors appreciate questions because an informed patient is more likely to follow orders correctly. Misunderstanding directions can lead to medical errors—something that a simple question could have avoided.

Although I completely agree with Rhodes’ article, I would like to add, however, that caregivers should also be prepared for conflict. In my experience as a caregiver, the issues of maintaining privacy and independence were exacerbated by the fact that I was a daughter-in-law.

When I went to doctors’ appointments with my mother-in-law, the medical personnel often directed their comments and questions to me. I would politely redirect them to speak directly to her. However, any involvement with medical issues, no matter how important, created discord in our relationship, particularly when I began to set up her medications, which occurred as follows:

After a hospitalization, when my mother-in-law was being released, I asked the doctor what his opinion was of my setting up her medications. My mother-in-law said, “You’re walking on thin ice!” After the doctor left the room, she said angrily to my husband: “You never know what is coming out of her mouth!”

That evening, after getting settled in at home, my husband’s sister called and talked to her mother about my setting up the medications. After the phone call was over, Mom came out, rolling her walker with a vengeance, and said, “Are you happy now?”

In truth, I was never happy when my mother-in-law “lost” the ability to perform a task independently. But in the case of medications, safety was the priority.

Barbara Matthews


Comments on: "Should you sit in on doctor appointments?" (1)

  1. […] Should you sit in on doctor appointments? […]

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