Many challenges arise when it comes to caring for an aging parent, but thankfully you are not alone. Your parent’s primary care provider is your main ally—the coach shouting from the sidelines, ensuring everyone on your team is doing what they are supposed to do.
Whether it is managing the magnitude of medications or the assortment of recommendations from various specialists, a primary care provider will be there every step of the way, ensuring you are on the right track.
“A large part of my responsibility is seeing patients on a regular basis, coordinating their care, writing their prescriptions and overseeing the implementation of their specialists’ recommendations,” says Michael Eyer, D.O., a Carroll Health Group primary care provider based in Hampstead. “As the physician who is seeing the patient most frequently, I am on the front line.”
And while a primary care provider can help handle a lot of the logistics of caring for an aging parent, you can do certain things to make sure you and your loved one are getting the most out of each visit. “Bring in medications and be sure to write down things that are concerning or need to be addressed between visits,” says Wendy Miller, M.D., who sees Carroll Health Group patients in Eldersburg. “Having a list of questions and medications allows us to have a more productive conversation.”
During the visit, be sure to take notes and let your parent speak for himself or herself. If your parent is uncomfortable discussing some aspect of his or her health in front of you, excuse yourself from the examination room momentarily.
It is also important to have regular family meetings so that everyone is on the same page. These meetings should include discussions of difficult topics, such as health care and end-of- life directives.
Finally, it is important to remember to take care of yourself. Caring for an aging parent often involves a reversal of the parent-child role, which can cause stress to the caregiver. “You can’t take care of anyone else if you are not in the proper state,” says John Wah, M.D., who sees patients in one of Carroll Health Group’s Westminster offices. “That means taking care of your mental and emotional health as much as your physical health. Something as simple as joining a caregiver support group can take a tremendous burden off of you.”
You are not alone!
To find a primary care doctor that can help you care for your loved one, go to CarrollHealthGroup.com. Plus, join Carroll Hospital for a free monthly Caregiver Support Group the second Tuesday of every month from 4 – 5:30 p.m. at the Carroll County Bureau of Aging and Disabilities.