As people age, their health requirements become more complex and challenging to manage. Families who are too busy with work rely on hospice care to handle all the health and personal needs of their loved ones. But if you’re living with a senior parent, it’s also important to do your part to improve the quality of their life.
Choosing the right doctor for your aging parent is an important decision that determines the quality and level of care they will receive. To help you choose the right doctor for your aging loved ones, here are the steps you can take.
Look for in-network doctors
Before searching local doctors in Google, you must determine if your family member’s health insurance covers your preferred physician. Physicians covered by your health insurance are called “in-network doctors,” resulting in affordable consultation fees.
To find an in-network doctor, contact your loved one’s health insurance provider and ask for a complete list of physicians covered by their health insurance plan. But keep in mind insurance plans don’t cover all physicians because of lower reimbursement rates. You have to make extra efforts to find in-network doctors who accept new patients.
Check for referrals
The information you find on a clinic’s website includes only positive testimonials. Although these details are helpful, it’s better to ask trusted friends, coworkers, neighbors, or family members when looking for a good doctor for your aging parent.
Personal referrals will narrow down your search, helping you save time to critically and carefully evaluate every physician on your list. You can also ask family caregivers caring for senior loved ones for suggestions. You may also reach out to senior centers, assisted living communities, or advocacy groups, especially if your parent suffers from a specific medical condition, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Your parent’s former healthcare providers can also provide recommendations. They have an extensive network of contacts of well-regarded doctors specializing in different ailments.
Don’t forget to contact the state or local medical society to know if previous patients have filed any complaints against the doctors you’re considering.
Consult a geriatrician
As your loved one ages, you may want to consider consulting a geriatrician specializing in their specific health needs. A geriatric doctor specializes in treating senior patients. Unlike a general physician who deals with various medical subjects across all ages, the geriatric physician has expertise in dealing with age-related mental and physical health conditions. They also have knowledge about suitable support services and resources offered to seniors.
If your aging parent is suffering from multiple progressive or chronic health conditions, consider consulting a geriatrician. A board-certified geriatrician will provide them with an age-appropriate treatment plan designed for their health and lifestyle.
Consider the logistics
Is your aging parent completely immobile, or can they drive themselves to different destinations? Will you prefer a doctor whose clinic is close to their home or your office so that you can attend consultations with them?
When finding a doctor for your aging loved one, you must consider the location and clinic hours. It’s crucial to ensure the doctor’s schedule does not conflict with you and your parent’s schedule.
Check other hospitals or clinics the doctor accepts patients. Often, doctors work in different clinics to expand their patient reach. Use this to your advantage to expand your options. But be careful of picking highly-rated doctors affiliated with low-rated hospitals because the rating or testimonials might be tampered with.
You may want to prioritize physicians working in large hospital systems than private practice. In case your parent has other chronic illnesses, you have easier access to other healthcare providers who can respond quickly to their condition. They also have complete departments and equipment all in one roof.
See the doctor
Once you have filtered your list of physicians, call their offices and make an appointment. While at it, ask the staff about the doctor’s qualifications, payment procedures, and office policies. You also want to ensure they provide efficient service since you’ll be dealing with the staff often.
During the appointment, make sure to get to know the physician personally before committing. Your loved one’s physician should be someone who is reliable enough and can easily rely on to handle their health condition. You can also write down specific questions your parent wishes to ask.
Finding a trusted physician for your aging loved one isn’t as easy as it seems. You have to take critical steps to know whether they are reliable and qualified enough to handle your loved one’s health condition. This is the best way to ensure a healthier and longer life for them.