Senoir Caregiving Tip: Choosing the Right Doctor for Your Aging Loved One
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Senoir Caregiving Tip: Choosing the Right Doctor for Your Aging Loved One

The importance of finding the right primary care physician for a senior citizen

When it comes to caring for an aging loved one, one of the most vital decisions you can make is choosing the right primary care physician. A senior citizen’s primary care doctor is the person you, as caregiver, will rely upon to order tests, interpret lab results, make referrals and offer advice on the multitude of health issues. For these reasons you will want to carefully select a medical professional who is qualified, competent and compassionate.

A common place for caregivers to begin the search for a primary care physician is with their loved one’s insurance company. While this is an important consideration, do not exclude doctors outside of the insurance company’s directory. Consulting with the right doctor can literally be the difference between life and death for a senior citizen; it is therefore wiser to select an insurance company based on your choice of doctor than to select you doctor based on the insurance copany.

A better way to begin your search for a primary care physician is to make a list of priorities. Do you want a doctor who has privileges at a particular hospital? Is the gender of the doctor important to you? Do you need the doctor to be able to speak a particular language? Does your loved one have a rare condition that the doctor needs to be familiar with?

Once these questions have been answered you can begin looking up doctors of geriatric medicine in your area. Why doctors of geriatric medicine? Geriatricians are internal medicine doctors who have dedicated themselves to the study and treatment of ailments that affect the elderly. These doctors specialize in seniors much the same way pediatricians specialize in children. A geriatrician will be more sensitive to and experienced in the issues associated with advanced aging than a general practitioner would be.

Once you have made a list of local doctors it’s time to do a little investigating. Healthgrades.com is a wonderful research tool to help you narrow down your list choices. This website will provide for a fee information such as where the doctor went to school, how long he or she has been practicing, where their residency was preformed, and reviews from other patients.

Next it is time to call the doctors’ offices. Likely you will not be able to speak with the doctor directly (they will be busy treating patients), but tell the receptionist you wish to discuss a new patient appointment. You should be able to speak with the appointment scheduler or the doctor’s nurse to gather some additional information. Here are some questions to ask:

Is the doctor accepting new patients?

How long will you have to wait for an appointment?

Who sees patients when the doctor is not available?

Is there a 24/7 nurse line available?

What insurance plans does the doctor accept?

What hospitals does the doctor have privileges at?

Does the doctor have experience with your loved one’s medical conditions?

Using these telephone interviews, select one doctor with whom you’d like to make a new patient appointment. At the initial appointment evaluate the friendliness of the staff, the attentiveness of the doctor and the cleanliness of the facilities. Don’t judge too harshly based on wait time, very good doctors can also be very tardy, it may signify that he or she offers each patient personal attention.

If the first doctor you consult with is unsatisfactory in some way, move on to the next physician on your list. Remember, a quality geriatrician can assist you in making your loved one’s golden years healthier and happier. It is important that you take your time and find a doctor with whom you feel you and your loved one can develop a trusting relationship.

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Comments (2)
Home Care Daily News (August 4th, 2009) « Home Care Blog

[...] Senior Health Update -Senoir Caregiving Tip: Choosing the right doctor for your aging loved one. More here>> [...]

I think not only doctor you need but someone who will care off.. Senior Care and Companionship

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