Be nosy, ask questions, take notes
Getting older has many benefits, but there are also risks and health disparities associated with the elderly. Belinda Grunewald, president, Right at Home Grosse Pointe says, “Three of the most common concerns for our older population are over-medication, blood pressure and urinary tract infections (UTI).”
It’s important that physicians and family members understand all the medications being taken and how they interact. Often, older adults are unable to advocate for themselves and need a friend or family member to go with them to the doctor, take notes and ask questions.
Taking blood pressure correctly is another important health concern. “Your doctor should take your blood pressure three times,” says Grunewald. “Lying down, sitting and standing up.” As Grunewald explains, blood pressure medicine may cause dizziness when you stand up quickly. This can mean your blood pressure is dropping too low and your medication may need to be adjusted.
“UTIs are very common in older adults and can cause a lot of mental status changes,” says Grunewald. Staying hydrated is key to avoiding UTIs. Grunewald also says making sure your loved one actually does have a UTI before getting a prescription. “Insist the doctor exams your loved one and doesn’t just prescribe a medication over the phone” as this often leads to over-medication.
Grunewald says if you need to find a senior community for your loved one “stop by for a surprise visit.” She added, “Observe how the staff treats the residents and stay for lunch or dinner to check out the food. Also find out the types of activities they provide.”
Working together with your physician is key. “Be nosy, ask questions, take notes and get a second opinion,” says Grunewald.