Who’ll Help Your Parents With Doctor Visits?


Last Updated: August 26, 2019

When you’re looking for senior living care or a community for your parents or senior loved ones, you know you need to ask the right questions but you may not know exactly which ones.Senior Care: Who’ll Help Your Parents With Doctor Visits?

We recently interviewed families who’ve gone through a senior care search about what questions they’d be sure to ask if they did it again. Top among their suggestions, was to find out exactly how parents’ doctor visits will be managed. Learn more about this process and who can help your parents with medical appointments in senior care.

1. How are off-site doctor visits handled?

If your parents have medical appointments with doctors who can’t come to them, you may question who will handle your loved ones’ billing or will arrange their transportation. Who will accompany your senior loved ones to their appointments, and will that person take notes and update your loved ones’ care plans? If you can’t attend and no one from your parent’s senior living community can go, you may need to hire a certified nursing assistant (CNA) from a senior care agency to go along and record information on your parents’ behalf.

2. Is it necessary to change doctors?

Many senior living residents switch their care to the attending physician at their senior living community for convenience. However, it is up to your parents or senior loved ones to decide what is best for them.

3. What staff is onsite?

Senior living communities should have an attending physician on call (although not necessarily on-site) who regularly checks on the residents in his or her care. Though, we recommend that families ask if senior living staff includes licensed nursing staff like a registered nurse (RN), who is onsite at least 8 hours every day, or if CNAs are staffed around the clock.

4. Who keeps track of appointments?

If your parents move to a senior living community, the staff will work with them, you and your parents’ doctor to develop a plan of care. This plan usually requires health assessments, even if there’s no change in your parents’ health status. Appointments should be part of this plan of care, and if your parents permit it, you’ll be kept in the loop by the doctor and community.

5. Who will keep you updated if you can’t accompany your parent?

This can be a challenge. If you’re not able to go with your parents to their doctor appointments, you’ll have to rely on them or a hired attendant to tell you what transpired. You may also be able to get your parents’ permission to have the doctor discuss their visit with you.

Some situations require a senior living community to contact you, like when:

  • A significant change in treatment
  • An injury occurs, whether or not it requires a doctor visit
  • Any development of medical complications
  • Deteriorating mental, physical, or psychosocial health
  • The onset of a life-threatening condition

The senior living community must also notify you and your parents’ doctor if your parents needs to be transferred to another type of care or community.

Managing your parents’ health concerns from afar isn’t ideal, but with the right support, your family can make it work.

Clear and respectful communication with your parents, their physician, and senior living community staff is key.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.