Ask an Angel: January 25, 2018

Our Ask An Angel correspondent is Arlene Petersen, Life Care Navigation Specialist in the area of senior home care.

Q. My siblings and I take turns bringing our mother to her doctor visits. We seem to have a handle on the appointments, but when it comes to keeping records, we often have details that fall through the cracks. This leaves us feeling frustrated. How can we manage her doctor visits, so we are all on the same page?

A. A doctor’s visit can be overwhelming. It is important to keep good records so that you and your siblings can be up to date on your mother’s care and progress. One of my friends has used some online apps where family members can log in and see updates from whichever family member completed the last medical appointment. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always kept up to date, so that system did not work very well for them. In the end, she set up a system that included a handout to use at each medical visit. The hand out was a simple Word document, and it left space for specific questions to ask the doctor as well as space for answers to the questions. Another space was designated for tests and results, medications and dosages for such. She also kept her mother’s current medication log with her at all times. This form was saved as a Word document and shared with her siblings. Each sibling had a binder or file to keep the notes in. Whichever sibling took mom to the doctor, they would send an updated Word document to the rest of the family. My advice is to form a system that works for you. If you and your siblings are tech savvy, an online sharing app might work great for you. If you like paper and pen, my friend’s system might be perfect for you. Someone else I know has one person designated as a scribe. This person puts in all updates in an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet lists the name of the doctor, the reason for the appointment, and the outcome. Whoever takes the person to the medical appointment sends an update to the scribe and he then makes the updates and sends it to each family member. It’s a huge help for the family to have someone like this to help. Depending on your family dynamics, there might be one person who can be that scribe. In any case, the key is to keep accurate and consistent notes so you can all be on the same page!

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