I’ve written several posts about eye medical care (post on cataracts - posts on detached retinas). Sometime soon I will share a bit more about my experience with cataract surgery — mine occurred several weeks ago.
Recently I discovered a terrific eye education resource. If you are trying to make sense of the medical health of your eyes or the eyes of an aging parent, get started by educating yourself about the structure of an eye. Check out this wonderful Eye Anatomy Tour, posted over at the Cleveland Clinic website.
Because most of my doctors offer explanations during fairly short appointments, I am not always able to absorb everything. My physicians usually explain things clearly and mostly in an unrushed manner, but I cannot always remember everything that I need (or want) to know.
The nice thing about this animated eye tour is that it can be run over and over — always a useful feature but especially so if an adult child is explaining an eye condition to an aging parent. When you watch the tour you can also use the Dictionary of Eye Terms, linked from the same web page.
With some frequency adult children search for reliable medical information after hearing research reported on the news. Or perhaps an aging parent or spouse is ill, a physician recommends a new therapy or treatment, and a family wants to learn more as they consider the recommendation.
When any of us seek to learn more, it’s second nature to try to increase our understanding by consulting electronic articles and other resources — either summary articles in newspapers or original reports in medical journals — and asking the question, “How might this medical research help me?”
The problem is, sorting through research articles and reports often yields mixed results. One piece of research may report positive results and beneficial patient outcomes while another might report just the opposite with less desirable results — on the same topic. How does one decide what research to consider seriously?
It happens over and over again as I listen to the radio or read the news. I hear about an aging parent issue or a disease that is increasing in magnitude. Or sometime it’s a health issue that is affecting certain groups of people or a new bit of research the describes problems with an intervention — one that I thought was working well. Invariably these stories make me ask why? Sometimes I ask a more personal question, “If that seems to work for me, how come researchers say is isn’t effective?”
In just about every case, I answer my question by learning more about the study of epidemiology — a field that explores and collects data about how diseases specifically and health issues in general occur and affect people and in certain places. Epidemiology measures by some period of time. This short video from the Centers from Disease Control explains more.
Epidemiology can be difficult to understand, especially because people, including me, tend to personalize the issues. Here are just a few questions to illustrate this personalization.
I’ve become quite a fan of the weekly Director’s podcasts from the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
These mini radio programs are a terrific resource for people of all ages, but adult children and their parents will find they provide a helpful introduction to the National Library of Medicine and Medline Plus. The podcasts used to be narrated by NLM director Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D. but now they are read by NLM staff member Rob Logan, Ph.D., a member of Dr. Lindberg’s library staff. Users encounter the image above when they search for the “casts” in iTunes.
The NLM podcasts are short, informative, easy to understand, and simple to download to a listening device, via iTunes. It’s not uncommon for a program to cite current research and explain its importance and relevance, so a listener can easily locate the research after listening.
Visiting the doctor’s office with an aging parent can be one the most puzzling situations for adult children as they provide increasing support. The dynamics of the situation can be confusing, especially in a time when family roles and responsibilities are changing. My husband visited the doctor with his 90-year-old mother on several occasions. At each appointment he tried to keep the focus on her, and he usually waited for her to bring up issues with her physician. However, he also found that as she declined cognitively, sharing his observations became more important, particularly when he thought that some of her symptoms might result from medication interactions.
American Medical News, a publication of the American Medical Association (AMA), recently published a November 14, 2011 article about relatives who accompany an aging patient on a visit to the doctor. When the Office Visit is a Family Matter includes interviews with physicians who have found themselves in the examining room with a patient and one or more of the patient’s relatives.
Some Important Issues to Keep in Mind
When Family Members Accompany a Patient to a Physician Visit Read more »
So your parent is in the hospital or just returned from a big deal medical appointment. Or maybe it’s you, the adult child, in this situation. Physicians have diagnosed a new condition, they are prescribing medications and tests, and you are hearing — and trying to absorb — lots of unfamiliar medical information.
Where does one go to get started gathering reliable information, learn what needs to be learned, and put it all in perspective?
What you should not do is start with Google – it’s too likely you’ll get all sorts of kooky questions and answer forums, where people are less focused on gathering information and more interested in sharing stories.
My dad’s recent heart attack turned out to be treatable — still serious, but not as much as first surmised. In the process of various diagnostic physician visits, he (and we) discussed a number of procedures with his doctors including a possible cardiac catheterization. We watched this slide show, A Visual Guide to Heart Disease, at WebMD, to learn more about the heart.
This was not the first time we needed a lot of information. Two years ago, my father’s internist referred him to a cardiologist who diagnosed an abdominal aneurysm. Dad underwent several cardiac procedures. Understanding an enormous amount of information about cardiovascular disease in a short time was difficult for everyone in our family, and especially for my parents. While the physicians’ explanations were clear and helpful, many questions arose after the office visit, and these were often answered by office staff whose responses often felt pre-packaged and rushed. We needed more information. Read more »