How to Ask Aging Parents About Their Medical History and Needs
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How to Ask Aging Parents About Their Medical History and Needs

Our parents in Des Plaines and surrounding areas often have many medications prescribed to them as they age. Prescription regimens can be very confusing, with some medicines meant to take only in the morning, some twice a day, and others with food. It is difficult to remember what the doctor said in the examination room about the medications, making it more confusing when managing prescriptions at home. Discussing your parent's medicines is essential in avoiding mistakes and mismanagement of the drugs they take. These conversations, however, take work to broach. Our independent parents may feel threatened, or they may view you as questioning their ability to care for themselves. Consider these strategies to start the conversation with your parent.  

Positive and Supportive

We want the best for our senior parents in the Lake Forest area; ensure your conversation starter reflects a positive approach to medications. The goal is to be helpful as well. Starting the dialogue with statements like "I'd like to help" or "I'd like to understand" is not confrontational and should put you and your parent at ease. Acknowledging that keeping track of medications is hard for everyone, draw from your experience to illustrate the difficulty in medication management.  

Write Medications Down

With your parent's help, gather all the prescribed and OTC medications they are currently taking and make a list. Note the name of each drug, the strength, the purpose of the medicine, and instructions on dosage. You can jot the list down in a notebook or create a medication list using tools on your computer. Check out the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's website for an example of a medication list. This list will come in handy for doctor's visits, so create a portable one.

Doctor's Visits

Offer to take your elderly parent to the doctor and ask to accompany them into the examination room. Ask them if you can help them understand their medications alongside them so that you feel comfortable speaking up during the visit. Use the medications list to ask about drug interactions, proper dosing, and side effects. Being a partner in your parent's care is critical.

Organize Prescriptions

Work with your parent to create a system for storing and taking their medications. There are several pill organizers on the market; head to your local Des Plaines area pharmacy to check out their options. There are even talking pillboxes for senior citizens who are vision impaired. Consider technology to set alarms to remind them to take their medications. Check in often to ensure the system is working. It is easy for anyone to get overwhelmed with numerous medications, so be patient and understanding.

Enlist Help

As a child of an elderly parent, your roles may feel contradictory; a child who is also a caregiver often encounters friction. Tackling their medications is a tricky topic. An in-home caregiver might be a perfect addition to your care team for your senior parent. In-home caregivers can help with medication management, household tasks, personal care, and companionship. Keeping lines of communication open and positive with your senior parent is always the goal. Medication management is critical to your parent's health as well. Balancing these elements is essential. Senior Helpers, serving Chicago, Des Plaines, and Lake Forest, can help create strategies for you in caring for your parent. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.