How to Talk to Your Doctor

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior Health
Your doctor plays a crucial role in your health. Especially when older age brings concerns such as Alzheimer’s or arthritis, your primary physician often becomes the nucleus around which your medical care revolves. Yet as seniors cope with more health conditions and doctors contend with growing patient loads, many people feel frustrated with their physicians. To make sure that you get the care you need—and deserve—consider these tips for your next appointment or checkup:

Prepare for Your Appointments

Does the following scenario sound familiar? You arrive at the doctor’s office with a few questions on your mind. Your physician then charges into the room, hurried and brisk, causing you to get flustered and forget your questions. If you have experienced this situation, make sure that you write down beforehand every concern you want to discuss with your physician. At your appointment, have your list in hand and ask that he address each question on it.

Bring a Family Member

Even when your doctor takes the time to go over your questions, you may not remember all of his answers. That’s why having a trusted loved one at your side can prove invaluable at your next visit. Especially when discussing a condition such as cancer or dementia, which can provoke emotional responses, it may be difficult to take down notes on treatment recommendations or other important information. Instead, let a family member do it for you.

Get Comfortable Asking Questions

Doctors have years of medical expertise, but don’t be afraid to question their advice. Reputable physicians know that patients must be their own advocates and will not take offense if you want a second opinion. As NIH SeniorHealth points out, you should also ask your doctor to explain confusing medical jargon. Though asking questions may make you nervous, remember that your health might pay the price for your silence.

Your experiences can help other seniors. If you have suggestions on how to communicate effectively with medical professionals, please leave them in our comments section.

Bathroom Safety Essentials

Staying Put at Home Tips for Home SafetyNIH SeniorHealth states that falls happen frequently in the home, and several factors point to the bathroom as a primary culprit. Slippery floors. Wet shower tiles. Slick tubs. All circumstances that can lead to a fall accident. Rickety towel racks and low toilet seats can also present problems. So when it comes to fall prevention, making your bathroom safe can greatly reduce your risk of fall injuries at home.

Adjusting Toilet Height

Minus the seat, the average toilet height falls below 15 inches. For some people, sitting little more than a foot from the ground and moving back into a standing position can be difficult. When strength or stability is an issue, the effort needed to carry out those movements may eventually lead to a fall. However, you can increase your toilet height—and your overall bathroom safety—by fitting your toilet with an ADA-compliant seat.

Installing Grab Bars

Even with a more suitable toilet, grab bars could prove integral to preventing falls as well. Especially on days when you feel fatigued or weak, a grab bar can ensure your steadiness as you sit and stand. One important note: a towel rack does not make an adequate grab bar substitute. Towel racks are not intended to withstand a person’s weight, so should you use one for support, you may suffer substantial harm if it dislodges from the wall.

Keeping Floors Slip-Free

A safe bathroom is a slip-free bathroom. You cannot overestimate the importance of making sure that every step you take is a secure one. If your floor doesn’t have traction, use non-skid bath mats to reduce the chances of slipping on wet tile. Also keep in mind the safety of your tub or shower. If you or someone in your household suffers from an issue that compromises strength, stability or agility, consider a walk-in bathtub to alleviate your bathroom fall risk.

Fall injuries affect nearly a third of American seniors in any given year. What steps have you taken to protect yourself from this common problem?

Spotting the Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Staying Put at Home Tips for Mental HealthAlzheimer’s disease might not yet have a cure, but healthcare providers can offer medications and other strategies to manage progressing symptoms. With early detection, you and your loved ones can also have more time to create a course of action regarding medical, financial and caregiving issues. To get ahead of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, though, it’s important to talk to a physician as soon as early warning signs present.

Communication Struggles

We’ve all had those “tip of the tongue” moments where you search for the right word only to remember it long after it could have been of use in a conversation. Those instances are often normal. But when it becomes difficult to have a conversation, or if a loved one can’t recall the proper names of simple objects, Alzheimer’s may be to blame.

Emotional Distress

Many circumstances can lead to an emotional outburst. A fender bender. A fight with your spouse. Even a particularly intense football game can be enough to make you frustrated and irritable. But when Alzheimer’s is at play, upsetting emotions—anger, panic, confusion—can arise on a frequent basis for seemingly unknown reasons.

Waning Judgment

Most people learn to bathe and dress themselves by early childhood. But as the Alzheimer’s Association notes, Alzheimer’s sufferers can find it difficult to perform these tasks. Logic and reason may also suffer. For example, someone with this condition might give confidential data like his social security number to strange callers or visitors.

Declining Perception

Perhaps one of the most evident Alzheimer’s symptoms is lost sense of time. Disorientation, such as not remembering how they got to work, can be common among Alzheimer’s patients. Others may struggle to keep track of their calendars. While a healthy person might mix up the occasional date, an Alzheimer’s sufferer can confuse months or even years.

Alzheimer’s disease can develop in other ways as well. If you have a friend or family member with this condition, what were the signs that first pointed to its presence?

The Grandparent Scam

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior SecurityBetty Logan* was at home in California when she received a call from her grandson. A college freshman studying in Arizona, Steve had gone to Mexico with friends and now was being held on phony drug charges by local authorities. Fearful that his parents would be upset about his trip across the border, Steve asked Betty if she could forward the funds necessary to pay off the corrupt cops. Frightened for her grandson, Betty told him that she first wanted to tell his mother about the incident. Two phone calls later, the first to Steve’s mom and the second to Steve’s cell phone, both women learned that he was safe at school. Steve was not being held by the Mexican police, nor had he ever stepped foot in Mexico. Betty then realized that she was the latest victim of the grandparent scam.

What is the grandparent scam?

According to the FBI, the grandparent scam is a type of fraud that targets senior Americans. The imposters who commit these crimes typically pose as the grandchildren of unsuspecting victims. They gather extensive personal data about the young adults they impersonate and the seniors they target—and may even use information about extended family members—to convince their victims of their identities. Should they make contact via telephone, they sound young and bewildered, much like a grandchild in trouble would. Believing these very persuasive criminals, grandparents wire the requested funds, which can be thousands of dollars.

Who is at risk for the grandparent scam?

Though nicknamed the grandparent scam, anyone is vulnerable to the tactics of these fraudulent individuals. In some cases, it may be an older aunt, friend, or other loved one who gets the call or email. Some con artists also use accomplices to pose as authority figures so that their stories appear creditable, and all scammers prey upon the emotions of those they target.

How can you protect yourself from the grandparent scam?

These criminals collect as much personal information as possible so that their impersonations seem genuine. So to protect yourself from the grandparent scam, monitor carefully all confidential data. Never throw away mail with personal information on it without first shredding the documents. If you use social media such as Facebook or Twitter, be careful of what information you make public. Should you receive a call from a seemingly frightened and desperate friend or family member, avoid the urge to immediately comply with his or her wishes. Instead, hang up, call back the loved one in question and then contact the authorities.

Have you experienced the grandparent scam? Share your story in our comments section. The information you provide could possibly save someone else from becoming a victim.

*The names in this story have been changed for privacy reasons.