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I Don't Think Dad Is Getting the Best Care



"My father doesn’t seem to be getting the medical attention he deserves from his doctor, and I’m worried about him. 

Dad is 80 years old, and his doctor seems to do a very superficial exam once a year with no blood work. All of this seems odd to me based on my own experience with routine physicals. It’s like he’s being ignored because of his age, or maybe there’s some other reason I don’t know about. 

Dad is reluctant to rock the boat. He has seen his new doctor for a couple years. It’s not in my father’s nature to ask questions. 

Is it the age thing, is Medicare the issue, or is his doctor just not on the ball? 

I have no desire to be pushy, I just want to be an advocate for Dad and see to it that he has the best care possible. What would you advise?"



Getting excellent healthcare requires a team approach, in my opinion. Patients who are actively involved in their health have the best outcomes. They are the patients who come in with their questions written out, stay on subject, listen, take notes, and are cognizant of time. They are also the patients who heed the instructions given and actively pursue the tasks they must take to improve their health. They are the dream patients.

You have described a complacent father. He might be intimidated by healthcare professionals. He doesn’t sound like someone who asks a lot of questions. He may be a person who wants to get in, get out, and carry on. He may not know what to ask. He might not be thinking about optimal health and what it would take to achieve that.

Now here you are, a concerned child unafraid to ask a few questions. It may be a bit generational or due to educational level, I don’t know.

Since you are clued into obtaining the best care you can for your father, there are several approaches you could try. The first one it to simply offer some suggestions about screenings he can ask his doctor about. With online charts and communication for patients, it’s very easy to send in a question. If your father is not set up with electronic communication and access to his record, you could help him set that up. 

Secondly, you could ask your father if he’s willing to have you join him for his routine physicals and for you to speak on his behalf. If he’s reluctant, he may be willing to have you work with him on a list of questions he can take along or submit electronically.

What I would not recommend is for you to contact his doctor and hurl accusations out of frustration. Without knowing what went on with your father’s appointment and what instruction he was given, you’re getting involved without all the facts. 

As your father ages, he may require more and more assistance from you to obtain the best care. Always let him take the lead but be there to fill in the blanks. Support. Encourage. Think of yourself as part of the team. Avoid taking over completely. If you present as rational, reasonable, and well researched, you will be seen as a valued member of the team and you will positively influence your father’s health.