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Healthcare Tips for Caring for Aging Parents

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One of the hardest things about getting older is watching your parents start to age. As a child, I had always wished that my parents would live forever, but now that I am a parent, it is so hard to watch my parents grow old. The one thing I’ve realized is that I am not alone. A lot of my friends are experiencing the same pain, and some have started to have to care for their parents, and even watched some of them pass away from illnesses or old age.

Since I have had so many questions about caring for my aging parents, I spoke with Dr. Melissa Rapp at Kaiser Permanente about what our generation needs to know about managing healthcare for our parents.

I know there are so many privacy laws when it comes to healthcare, and I was curious to know what I need to do to prepare for the event when I need to talk to my parent’s doctor about their health. When talking with Dr. Rapp, she advised me that the patient would need to sign a release for information and that any primary care physician should be able to provide the proper forms. An attorney would be needed if you needed someone to be the conservator, but as long as you have a signed consent form, there shouldn’t be any problem with working with your parent’s doctors at Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Rapp continued to tell me that at Kaiser Permanente, they like working as a team with the family and that they encourage children to play a role in their aging parent’s healthcare.

The second big concern that most children have about their parent’s healthcare management is ensuring that their parents are coming in for regular doctor visits and taking any needed medications. At Kaiser Permanente, they offer the valuable resource of KP.org. On the KP.org website, family members can see whether their aging parents are refilling their prescriptions, coming in for their appointments, and they can also see what any possible healthcare issues their aging parents might be facing.

Another great resource that Kaiser Permanente offers to their patients is pharmacy care. When a patient is prescribed a new medication, the pharmacist will contact the patient and go over the medication with them. If you’re caring for your parent, you can take the call with the pharmacist or join the call with your parent. The pharmacist at Kaiser Permanente will also review medications for any risks such as possible medication reactions.

My favorite resource that Kaiser Permanente offers their patients and family members caring for an aging parent is the access to telephone visits and the ability to email the doctors. If you have a question about the health of your aging parent, you can easily get in touch with your parent’s doctor via email or telephone, which is great if you’re a busy parent caring for younger children as well.

Finally, one of the hardest things to know is when is the right time to step in and help aid your aging parent with their healthcare. Dr. Rapp advised that there isn’t a specific age in which the children should step in to help. “Often what happens is that they are fine, and then they get really sick. You go from doing nothing to doing 100%,” said Dr. Rapp. She also advised that it is helpful if you’re aware of any possible medical issues that your parents might be experiencing and if they are on any medications. When a patient gets a severe life-threating illness, it is helpful to have another family member there to ensure they hear everything in regards to their diagnosis, work-up, and treatments so that the patient can make the best-informed decisions.

Kaiser Permanente cares about the health of their patients and ensuring that family members are helping to play a role in their patient’s major medical decisions. If you have an aging parent and faced with questions that you can’t asnwer about their care, the doctors at Kaiser Permanente are available to help walk you through the entire process and ensure that you don’t feel alone during the stressful time. When looking for the best healthcare for your parents, learn more about Kaiser Permanente online.

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