My 84-year-old father is starting to develop a few health issues. Nothing serious, but concerning enough that we’ve been spending more time at the doctor. While his physician is cordial, he always seems hurried. My dad doesn’t talk about his medical problems very easily, so it sometimes takes a few minutes for him to open up.
I suspect my dad’s physician is a better fit for younger adults than for seniors. How can I tell if it’s time to make a change? If it is, what steps can I take to find a physician who is comfortable working with seniors?
Any suggestions are appreciated!
Is It Time for a New Physician for a Senior Loved One?
What a great observation! It’s one we often hear from adult children. Not every primary care physician is comfortable caring for older patients, just as some aren’t at ease with younger children. Here’s some insight you might find helpful in making this decision.
First, mutual respect is essential in your father’s relationship with his primary care physician. While they are busy professionals, your father needs to feel like his doctor is listening to him. On the other hand, it sounds like your dad has been this doctor’s patient for a while. There is value in working with someone who knows his medical history.
Is there anything you can do to help your dad better communicate with his doctor? Do you make a list of concerns and review them ahead of time? Before you give up and find a new doctor, it’s worth trying to prepare more before appointments.
There are other issues to consider, too. Can you get an appointment easily? Is his doctor able to quickly make a diagnosis? Is the location of the office convenient? Is the physician part of a reputable provider network?
If you take an objective look at the situation and decide it is in your dad’s best interest to find a new physician, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Tips for Finding a New Physician
- Insurance: Research which physicians accept your father’s health insurance. While you might think all physicians accept Medicare, a growing number of doctors are declining to work with Medicare and Medicaid due to perceived low reimbursement rates.
- Referrals: Ask friends, family, and colleagues you trust for referrals. It’s a good way to gain insight on what it’s like to be a patient of any physician you are considering.
- Location: While a good doctor is worth driving farther for, a great distance can be tough if your dad needs to visit often.
- Reviews: While reviews for physicians are tough to come by, a few sites are worth investigating. Healthgrades and Vitals are two. Medicare’s Physician Compare tool is another.
- Appointment: Finally, schedule a new patient appointment with the doctor. These appointments are usually longer and will give you a good idea whether the doctor will be a good fit for your father.
I hope these tips are helpful to you and your father, Lisa! I’m sure this won’t be an easy decision to make.
Heritage Senior Communities
A fourth generation, family-owned company, Heritage Senior Communities has locations throughout Michigan and one in Indiana. With options for care that include independent living, assisted living, memory care, and respite, you’ll likely find a good solution for a senior loved one.