When Family Members Accompany an Aging Parent to the Doctor

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

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