Dear Donna:

My parents recently sold their home in another state and moved to Michigan to stay with my wife and me. The arrangement is temporary while we search for a senior living community for them.

I’m trying to get them on track with their health care and nutrition. They have never been very good about going to the doctor, but it got worse in the last few years. Their diet is also unhealthy. The first thing I need to do is find a doctor. They both need a complete physical and likely most of their health screenings, especially bloodwork.

Do you have any ideas for helping me locate a doctor for seniors? I prefer someone who has experience working with older adults. Any tips would be much appreciated.


Steve in Elk Rapids, MI

Finding a Doctor for a Senior Loved One

Dear Steve:

Your question is commonly asked by adult children! Unless an older adult is fortunate enough to have a longtime primary care physician, many find themselves needing to make a change. Because of the shortage of family practice doctors in many areas of the country, this task can be much tougher than in the past.

I do have some suggestions that might make your search easier:

  • Investigate physicians in their insurance plan: Since you mentioned your parents moved to Michigan from another state, one factor to keep in mind is their insurance network. If they transitioned to a different Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll need to check to see which doctors are covered. For older adults who are on traditional Medicare, there will probably be more options. Medicare will create a list of doctors near you who accept new patients. You can find this list online or by calling Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227. (TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.)
  • Ask for recommendations: You can read reviews on a variety of sites, such as Vitals, Healthgrades, and RateMDs. While they can provide some insight, nothing can replace personal referrals. Ask friends and colleagues involved in a parent’s care which physicians they like and dislike. Maybe ask for recommendations on Facebook, too.
  • Talk with the hospital discharge planner or social worker: If you have a preferred hospital in your community, they might be able to point you in the right direction. While they likely can’t provide recommendations, many are aware of physicians who work with seniors. Those who work in emergency departments of the hospital sometimes keep a list of physicians who are accepting new patients.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, call the office to see if they offer meet and greet times for potential new patients. Even a few minutes of a physician’s time might give you an idea of whether they will be a good fit for your parents.

If you find yourself struggling to overcome your parents’ reluctance to see a doctor, we have a few tips. How Do I Get My Dad to See the Doctor Regularly has ideas you might find useful.

Kind regards,