Just like you would for your children, do it for your parents. A new year, a new opportunity to make sure all aspects of your loved ones health needs are tended to. It is easy to get caught up in the “big” doctor moments and tests, try not to overlook the littler moments… When those primary physical and mental issues are rightfully our priority, it is easy to let a daily or weekly complaint slide. “My fingers are sore.” “I can’t use scissors anymore.” “The newspaper is blurry.” “My teeth feel dirty even after I brush.” “The food seems like it sticks to my teeth.” you get the idea – not anything that would set off alarm bells. Comments that are just mentioned in passing. As my parents age and my mom’s mental health slides, she can’t always express how much things bother her. Without the freedom or ability to just call your own doctor and schedule an appointment for every little annoyance, your family depends on you. When my folks lived states away, it seemed like my mom was getting social interaction by parading through doctor appointments each week. Now there can be a week with multiple appointments, however they are fewer, focused and further between as a rule. In addition to those primary neurologist appointments, we add in annual or bi annual visits to the following doctors based on her needs and small comments.
Opthamologist– A complaint about trouble reading the paper. Blurry vision when reading. My mom has had procedures in the past in another state for cataracts. Before we moved her, it was suggested there was some remnants that had developed that might need to be removed. We established an ophthalmologist locally. We saw the doctor and I sat in during the exam. Mom has a innate desire to do the best she can do at everything. This exam is one of those things – she strained and strained to see. She didn’t have quick answers, nor did she mention it was blurry to the doctor. So it was not surprising, she got all the letters correct on the chart. The doctor did not adjust her prescription. My mom was beyond frustrated. She wanted to go back “home” just to go to the eye doctor. I do not doubt my mom’s vision has changed in everyday situations. She doesn’t always have the room illuminated adequately. The newspaper is not high contrast print to paper. The newspaper font is not increasing with age either. (By the way, how rude newspaper people!!)
Ultimately, her neurologist that she saw for Alzheimer’s had a solution. On our last visit before the doctor’s retirement, my mom complemented her eye glasses. The doc told her they were just fancy readers. She had personally found that the high intensity reader provided just what she needed in the office. Genius! Easy peasy – off I went. Mom was completely willing to try (and THAT is important). I founded a high intensity reader with really fun frames (also important for my mom). It worked! I am not suggesting that sight issues are solved this way. I am suggesting that you make sure your loved one has regular visits.
For my mom, from the big box store – I ultimately filled her world with several pairs of readers. One in the bathroom, one next to the bed, one on the kitchen table, one in her purse…you see where I am going. She wouldn’t have to search for her spectacles! Additionally, I found another ophthalmologist for my mom. Nothing was wrong with the first one, other than my mom would never feel comfortable because she felt the doctor did not believe her.
Dentist – My mom didn’t have special dental needs when she moved north. Cleanings every 6 months. After a couple recommendations, we found a dentist. There were a few blips early with my mom missing appointments. When I stepped in – with my mom’s blessing, my phone number was the new contact number for all appointments. Appointments are no longer missed. Mom feels like she is on her regular, lifelong dental schedule again.
Gynecologist – For the ladies out there we have a special annual appointment, we must schedule. This is necessary. I have accompanied my mom in years before. I listen and help answer questions, if I know the answer. This year – without revealing too much information, I did not have the opportunity to step out of the room. That proved to be a blessing for my mom. She had been using a medication for at least a year, prescribed by this doctor. On this visit, there was an intern present and the doctor was speaking to him. While I wanted to disappear, I was listening and my ears perked up! Long story short, the reason she was using this medication could easily be healed! Like no more need for the medication! How is this relevant to this blog? My mom had been using the medication not to it’s full potential and she had previously misunderstood what was her condition. Two weeks after that appointment, my mom appeared in my kitchen late at night. “I came out to tell you something!” LOOONNNGGGG PPPAAUUSSSEEEE (while she attempts to remember what she wanted to say). “OH! It is completely healed!!” Life changing. I was extremely happy for her. I was sad that I hadn’t pushed the issue a year earlier. She was not using the cream exactly as prescribed. Even though I manage her medications, I did not do anything other than fill the prescription and put it in her bathroom for her. Medication management is medication management. I missed this. No one needs to have unnecessary pain or take unnecessary medicine!
Podiatrist– This is another physician that my mom sees. For two reasons she visits, one because a prior injury and the other because as she has aged, her toe nails started to grow into peaks. This new nail formation causes pain. The podiatrist told us it was common and had the technician cut and file them for her. One of her appointments was cancelled by the clinic due to illness. Her nails hurt, so I did what I thought was the next best thing – a pedicure! The nail technician did a wonderful job and painted her nails as well! I never would have guessed peaked toe nails were a thing!?! Ask your loved ones about there feet – for so many reason I have not mentioned!!
Internist -For mom, this physician is the primary care and he oversees all her care. Arthritis hands just another condition that needs to be monitored. Years before due to another condition, my mom was taken off her prescription for her arthritis. In the last year, the arthritis has plagued her fingers and they now they are bent sideways. This pain is not to be taken lightly. However, the doctor was and is hesitant to begin her on the drug regimen again. So alternate options were suggested. Voltran, an over the counter ointment that she can rub into her hands. As well, paraffin wax treatment was suggested. Mom was excited about the paraffin, she has had this at the salon previously. My husband popped on Amazon and our own paraffin wax and warmer were at our door. Thank you honey, your mother in law thanks you too! For now this combination is helping. It is a good day when there is one less prescription to be consumed in our house. By no means as I suggesting treatment therapies, I am sharing where we are with my mom. I am reminding you to follow up with the doctor on behalf of your parents (or loved ones) for the “smaller” aches and complaints.
Take a few notes away from this entry.
1. Listen to your loved ones. Help them get the medical care if they need it for those “other” aches and bothersome pains.
2. Sometimes regularity with medical appointments brings a sense of normalcy for your loved one.
3. Regular appointments are necessary. For my mom a weekly parade to providers is no longer needed now that she is living with us. Hopefully we found (pre-Covid) better opportunities for social interaction.
In case no one told you today, Thank You for all you do!
“Let all that you do, be done in Love.”1 Corinthians 16:14