Senior Housing Connection


Thursday, January 31, 2013

“Don’t worry about it, it’s nothing!” If you’re a caregiver, you’ve probably heard that sentence, or a similar one, from your loved one. But if you’ve noticed a suspicious mole on your dad’s back, or that your mom is losing what seems like a lot of weight for no reason, it’s time to get them to the doctor.

Even if you don’t notice any overt issues, it’s important for seniors to get regular checkups. Small health problems can become big ones, and some serious health issues have no symptoms.

According to the Aetna Health Care guide, seniors age 65 to 70 should visit the doctor once a year (more if the doctor recommends it), while those between the ages of 70 and 80 should visit about twice a year, and those over 80, every three months, or as often as their doctor recommends.

So you know it’s important for your loved one to go to the doctor. But now, how do you convince them to get regular check-ups if they insist they are healthy

Listen to Their Concerns:

There can be many reasons your loved one might be reluctant to visit the doctor. To avoid a flat-out refusal, try this tactic: sit down with your loved one in a non-threatening environment (i.e. make tea for two and take it out to the porch), then gently ask a few questions to get to the bottom of your loved one’s unwillingness.

Saying “Why won’t you go?” might make your loved one clam up. Instead, try starting with, “What was going to the doctor like when you were a kid?” Ideas about doctors are often formed in childhood, and your loved one probably grew up in a time when medicine was far less advanced than it is now, and hospitals were a place for pain, suffering, and death. Also try asking if your loved one has ever had a bad experience with a doctor.

Your loved one may also be afraid the examination will find something wrong and they fear losing control of their decision-making ability. Not to mention the fear of large medical bills. Remind him or her that they can decide what happens next and offer to go with them to be an advocate. These questions and an offer to be supportive will take you out of the role of enforcer and can give you a window into your loved one’s resistance.

Help Solve the Problem:
By Diane Walker, RN, MS, CSA Senior Care Advice