When your aging parent has a medical team helping them manage their end-of-life care including medications and treatment, it is important you know how to communicate effectively with all the members.
Sometimes, your mom or dad doesn’t want to tell their doctor the whole truth. A life-limiting illness is a scary thing to face. They might fear the unknown or simply be in denial about some symptoms they are exhibiting. Either way, it’s now your job to make sure their doctors know exactly what you are observing. You don’t want to feel like you are overstepping, but you also don’t want your parents leaving out details. Here is how you manage end-of-life care:
Write down your concerns as they happen.
The next time you visit your parents, start a casual discussion about their health and bring up your observations. Take time to understand their perspective, and avoid appearing like you want to control their life. They need to feel independent.
Take notes on everything needed for end-of-life care.
Write down every medication, vitamin or supplement your mom or dad takes daily. Their doctor should have access to this complete list. Your parent may forget some of the medicines they take, and in result, they may be in danger of mixing medicines that shouldn’t mix.
Doctor’s speak to your parents or loved one, not you.
If you are in the room with the doctor for your parent’s appointment, make sure the physician speaks to your mom or dad and not directly to you as a caregiver. Conduct a game plan conversation with your parent before the appointment. Discuss what important things the doctor needs to know.
Call the office for updates.
If you can’t attend the doctor’s appointments with your parents, call the office and let them know some concerns or observations you may have, and they will take your comments into consideration when they meet with your parents.
Get the legal paperwork completed.
Ask your parents to sign the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) form, so healthcare professionals can speak with you. Without this form, you can still call and tell the doctor’s your concerns, but the two of you cannot have a conversation about your parent’s illness or treatments. Also, make sure your parents fill out a healthcare Power of Attorney form so they can receive the care they want or need if they are cognitively impaired.
Consider bringing in hospice.
If your parents are managing a terminal illness, consider hiring a hospice team that can provide extra help. With this kind of help, you can spend time with as their child and confidant rather than just their caregiver.
Effective communication during end-of-life care means asking questions, providing as much information possible and never assuming what your parents need or how they feel. You are still their child, and you need to help them maintain their dignity as much as you need to help them maintain their health.
McCortney Family Hospice offers quality care for your loved one. We can answer all your questions. Just give us a call at (405) 360-2400.