By Connie Pizarro, CSA
What do you do if the doctor whom your aging mom or dad has been seeing for decades decides to retire? Or, your elderly parents move from another state to be closer to you and they need a new doctor?
You may think your mom can just see the primary care doctor you’ve had for your family, but that probably isn’t the best decision if your parents are over the age of 65. Here are some factors to consider when looking for the right physician for a senior family member.
- Look for a geriatrician:Geriatricians are board-certified physicians who care for older patients (age 65+) and specialize in treating the complex medical needs that come with aging.
- Determine health insurance coverage: You will need to understand what type of insurance coverage your parents have. Depending on the type, the choice of geriatricians may be limited to a pre-determined list. If they are covered under Medicare, the govPhysician Compare site can be helpful to search for doctors in your area. Another option is to call 1-800-MEDICARE if you prefer personal help.
- Get a referral: The National Institutes of Health suggests talking to friends, neighbors and relatives who have a geriatrician they are happy with. You can also ask other health professionals such as your own doctor or pharmacist. If your parent has a specific medical condition, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, you can also check with a local advocacy group for their recommendations.
- Find the right location:If possible, choose a doctor that is close to where your parent lives, and, if you are the one providing transportation to appointments, not too far away from you. If your parent lives in a senior living community, ask the management if geriatricians routinely visit patients at their location, as this may be an attractive and convenient option.
- Check their credentials: Look for a doctor affiliated with an established practice or professional network that requires high standards and a good record of positive patient outcomes, if that data is available. Standards of excellence include board certifications and associations with leading medical associations.
- Do an Interview: Identify a short list of doctors you are considering and make an appointment to talk to them over the phone or in person. This is the best way to find the right physician for your parent. Tell them about your parent’s overall health and specific conditions, and ask questions that are important to both you and your loved ones.
If you need help with any of these tips, feel free to reach out for guidance.
Connie Pizarro is a certified senior advisor and owner of Oasis Senior Advisors of Central Jersey. She can be reached at Cpizarro@YourOasisAdvisor.com or (732) 524-8864.