Caregiver Issues: Dealing With a Doctor Who Talks to You Rather Than Your Parent
When you become a family caregiver for your elderly parents, you may encounter a phenomenon that is not just frustrating, but ultimately disrespectful to your parents and counterintuitive to some of the basic care goals that you likely have for them. This is when you go along with your parents to their doctors’ appointments and find that the doctor is talking to you rather than to them.
When you were a child your parent came along with you to the doctor and was there with you during the examination, discussions of any issues, and explanations of treatment and management options. They may have even been an active part of these discussions, answering difficult questions for you and making sure that they understood everything that the doctor was saying. For the most part, however, the doctor interacted with you and made sure that you were the focus of the appointment. Now that the roles are reversed and you are attending appointments with your parents in an effort to be their advocate and make sure that they get the most out of their visit and your continuing care, you find that the situation is not the same. Instead of focusing on your parents and letting you step in when necessary, the doctor might ignore your parents all together and try to interact solely with you.
There are many reasons that a doctor might do this, not the least of which is time. If you are with your seniors at their appointment it is likely because they are dealing with cognitive limitations and challenges that make it necessary for you to assist them. This can make communicating with them and getting through the steps of the appointment more time-consuming for the doctor. As he wants to get through their appointment as quickly as possible and move on to the next, he might turn to you in hopes of saving time and not having to use as much patience.
Acting as their advocate means insisting that the doctor acknowledge your parents as individuals and the patients for whom he is providing care and treatment. This means greeting them by name, directing questions to them, making eye contact with them throughout the appointment, and verbally guiding them through each step of the examination and any tests or procedures that must be done. Even if you have to be right there and end up answering most of the questions and taking notes about what the doctor says, this level of respect and dignity in treatment helps to preserve your parents’ self-esteem and encourage the highest level of independence and motivation as possible.
If you notice that the doctor is not treating your parents with the proper respect, do not hesitate to speak up. Tell him what you notice and why it bothers you, and request that he shift his bedside manner. If he does not, consider switching doctors to one who will give your parents the respect and personalized attention that they deserve.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregiver services in Harleysville, PA, contact the caring professionals at Reliant At Home Care today (610) 674-6860.