Gail’s Advice on Helping the Elderly with Doctor’s Appointments

This is another article that Mom wrote for the eHow website about 7 years ago.

As your parents, friends and even neighbors grow older you might find yourself chauffeuring them for grocery shopping, hair cuts, club meetings, various errands and doctor’s appointments. This last one is the most important one to be sure to do it right.

Call the doctor

 If your older neighbor or a family member has trouble driving or lacks transportation, talk with them frequently by phone or drop by to see what their needs are. When they have a health issue, encourage them to schedule a doctor’s visit and offer them a ride. Make a note to remind yourself of the date and time of the appointment.


Make sure you allow plenty of time to pick up the one going to see the doctor. Someone who’s elderly walks much slower and might even use a cane, a walker or even a wheelchair that takes time to load into the car.

 

Gather all the medicine prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs that your friend or family member uses. Put them into a small bag to take with you. This lets the doctor know what the patient has been taking and avoids conflicting drug prescriptions. The doctor can check if the prescriptions need to be updated as well as making sure the patient is following instructions.

Take the pills

If it is snowy weather be sure your car is cleared and warm inside. If you have a seat-warmer, I’m sure your passenger will appreciate that too. They may need help with the steps and sidewalks if they’re slick. A fall can have disastrous consequences as bones grow brittle with aging.

Flyers with information

Flyers with information

On the trip to the doctor’s office quiz your passenger on what they need to tell the doctor or questions they need to ask. You can make a list of these as you wait in the waiting room. While there, check out pamphlets that might be of interest to you and your friend. Take time to chat and catch up on their news. Make this trip more like a friendly visit than a trip to the doctor to keep the anxiety level at a minimum.

 

Listen and take notes

Listen and take notes

Go into the doctor’s office with the patient to provide extra set of ears. Take notes of what the doctor says or even take a voice-activated recorder along to be sure everyone has the same information.

If a prescription is issued, take time to fill it as you head home. During the drive, talk about their plans so you can be sure they will follow the doctor’s directions. Find out if they need help carrying these out.

Gail’s Advice on Getting Older

My mom, Gail Lee Martin, loved to write and loved to give advice. When she was 85, she shared what she learned over the years by writing articles for the eHow website. Many of her topics targeted a senior audience, but other ages will find tips they can use, seasoned with her 85 years of living.

She grew up in the Kansas Flint Hills at a time when water was pumped by hand into a bucket and carried into the house. Having a “can do” attitude and a practical outlook, she shared some methods that may seem old-fashioned. In a time of recession, these low-tech ideas and thrifty methods are gaining in popularity. We need to learn from our elders, so take a look at Gail’s advice below.

Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.” That’s the poetic way to look at it. Actually growing older can cause lots of changes in people’s lifestyle. These can be coped with, if approached with some pre-planning or by taking advantage of any opportunity that comes along. I would like to show you how we handled these difficult times and even shared with our six children as they grew up.

FOLLOW YOUR INTERESTS WHEREVER THEY LEAD YOU – It took quite awhile for all six to grow up enough to get married or at least out on their own to raise families or follow their careers. By 1981 the youngest was married, and my husband and I were only 56 years old. Needing something to occupy my time until Clyde retired, I became interested in tracing family’s history. What I found in military and census records was so interesting I wanted to share with our children. So one by one I made family notebooks of the first four generations. I fancied up the notebooks with padded coverings and added an appropriate photo in matching padded frames on the front. The notebooks made great birthday gifts. You can continue making copies of the family books for your grandchildren as they get married.

Here's an example of one of the decorative notebooks Mom created.

Here’s an example of one of the decorative notebooks Mom created.

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME WHILE HEALTHY – Retirement age really isn’t so very old. At 62 or 65 years of age you have lots of years to have fun. Fishing was our first choice as we had missed doing that a lot during our working years and raising a big family. We also couldn’t seem to stop making a big garden because any garden thrived under Clyde’s watchful eye and tender care, developing into too much produce that even our family, neighbors and friends couldn’t use it all up.

KEEP ACTIVE UNTIL IT ISN’T FUN ANYMORE – We enjoyed the garden so much that we didn’t want to give it up, leading us into another enjoyable pastime when we joined a local farmer’s market. At the market we made many new friends who enjoyed our fresh produce, preserved products and baked goodies. After twenty years even that type of activity became more drudgery than fun.

Gail and Clyde Martin with their farmer's market tent.

Gail and Clyde Martin with their farmer’s market tent.

PREPARE TO PASS ALONG YOUR HERITAGE – Old age was gaining on us and who wants to read or watch television all the time? We decided to use our computer skills and label our family heirlooms, accumulated over the 63 years of marriage, for our children’s information after we are gone. Typing or writing the details (from whom and year received) on address or shipping labels and placing it in an inconspicuous place on the object passes on the history of precious items.

Mom collected vintage canning jars to display in her kitchen.

Mom collected vintage canning jars to display in her kitchen.

I have to insert a comment on this last advice. Unfortunately the household goods were auctioned after Mom’s death, so the only way her children and grandchildren could preserve the family pieces that Mom treasured was to bid for them there. It’s most unsettling to see your parents’ lifetime accumulation spread across a lawn with strangers pawing through it. Some of the items are safely in family keeping, but others are now who-knows-where.

I remind myself, that our greatest inheritance is our memories and our values passed down through the generations. Those are what I’m trying to preserve in this blog and eventually in the family books I’ll create.

Looking for the Silver Lining

It’s such a blessing that Mom didn’t suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, nor did Dad. They spent the last years of their lives in their own home though they depended heavily on family to keep them supplied or to take them to the doctor.

Though pretty much home bound, they cocooned and tried to get pleasure from the resources available to them. Going out to eat or to family gatherings became too much of an ordeal to them. They preferred the quiet and comfort of their home.

There they could read, watch their favorite series or baseball games. They could snack when they were hungry, nap when they felt sleepy.

I’m following some bloggers who write about their aging parents. One is about an Alzheimer’s patient living at home with her daughter. When I see what that does to the one with the disease and to the caregiver, I feel so thankful that Mom and Dad didn’t get that.

Here’s the blog, My Sweet Peanut, which is most touchingly written.

My folks were so fortunate that in their late eighties, they could still make decisions and remember things. Yes, they were frail, but still able to reason things out for themselves.

Here's Mom (Gail Lee Martin) in the yard at her home.

Here’s Mom (Gail Lee Martin) in the yard at her home.