How to Help Your Aging Parents Get the Medical Care They Need

January 20, 2017

When one of your parents comes down with an illness, or potentially, a chronic condition, you should pay close attention. If an aging parent is dealing with even minor ills, it may be a sign that something serious is going on.


As the primary caretaker, you should know what signs to look for so you know whether to schedule an appointment with the physician, take your parent to the emergency room or call 911.

What kind of call should you make?

A heart attack or stroke warrants a call to 911. Vascular blockage, which is a symptom of a stroke, is a serious matter, and the faster you can respond, the better.

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Slurred speech, chest pain, and weakness in the face, legs or arms are just some of the symptoms, but so is feeling very tired or short of breath. Some of these symptoms can be the result of other conditions, like a cold or flu, making it even more difficult to know how to respond.

If your parent is having a heart attack, he or she may be feeling weak, acting confused or dizzy. Feeling lethargic, having heartburn or falling are also a sign that a heart attack may be happening. Keep in mind that an elderly person may not exhibit the same heart attack signs that a younger person may display.

Don’t take these symptoms lightly. It’s better to be on the safe side, call 911 or go straight to the hospital to let the medical professionals check your parent out.

Communicating with healthcare professionals

When you arrive at the emergency room, you’ll want to give the healthcare professionals a complete picture of your parent’s history. Here’s what you’ll need to know:

  • The medications your parent is taking.
  • Any health conditions.
  • Allergies to medications and others.

Helping your parent from afar

If you don’t live nearby your parents, dealing with a medical problem can be all the more challenging.

Before your parent experiences an emergency, make a plan for how to respond. You’ll want to collect the names and numbers of any friends and neighbors that live close to your parents. That way, if you call on your mom or dad and don’t get an answer, you can check in with friends and neighbors who can call on your parents and check on their condition.

You should also look up the numbers for the police in your parents’ town or city so you can call them quickly if necessary. You can also call the non-emergency police department’s number and request that they perform a “welfare check,” in the event that you can’t reach your parent.

Helping a resistant parent

Whether or not you live near your parents, you may confront a situation where your parent isn’t willing to go to the hospital. If this happens, be ready to talk about what would happen if they don’t seek treatment. Or the peace of mind everyone will have by getting the situation checked out by a professional.

You can also call their primary care physician for advice, and get your parent on the phone with a doctor or a nurse who can act as an unbiased third party.

Now that you have emergency procedures in place, you can rest easy knowing that if the situation arises where your parent needs immediate attention, you can put the plan into action and respond swiftly.

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