The Importance of Building Trust with Your Loved One’s Doctors

caregiver-at-doctor

Doctors can be some of the most important people in seniors’ lives[1]. Caregivers and advocates take time and energy to not only make sure senior loved ones can get to their appointments, but that they feel heard, seen, and supported in that process. If you’re close to an older person, you might be called into an appointment to communicate with their doctors, and it’s important to build trust with them.

Different office policies, like limiting capacity due to COVID-19 precautions, can place extra stress on caregivers and advocates. For example, how would a caregiver address a long wait outside or in the car due to COVID-19 capacity limits? 

The most effective way to address a doctor’s challenging office situation would be to talk to the doctor or office manager. However, many caregivers refuse to take direct action for fear of being perceived as pushy or difficult to work with, or, worse, out of fear that their loved one will not get as good care because of their interference.

Caregivers should feel empowered to advocate for their loved ones without fear of social or medical retaliation. You can use strategies to build trust with your loved one’s care team and effectively advocate for their needs. 

Sometimes advocacy comes in the form of outfitting your loved one with at-home protective tools, like an In-Home + On-the-Go + Fall Detection medical alert system. Sometimes advocacy is showing up for important appointments and procedures. Building trust with your loved one’s care team is an important part of making sure all your advocacy work is successful in the long-term[3].

Why It’s Important to Build a Relationship with Your Loved One’s Care Team

Building a relationship with your loved one’s doctors provides many benefits. If your loved one feels more comfortable with a doctor, then they are more likely to communicate and ask questions. Also, if an elderly patient is hard of hearing, they may need to rely on another set of ears. You can act as a liaison between patient and doctor to make sure communication is clear and on target. 

The Relationship Between Seniors and their Doctors

Your loved one’s relationship with their care team is important to their health maintenance. Always bear in mind that a doctor could see multiple patients per day[4]. With doctors, it’s important to develop straightforward relationships that foster communication, especially when time and focus might be limited. Frequent communication between you, your loved one, and their care team can help build trust. A trusting medical environment paves the way for better care. There are several ways in which you can build trust with your loved one’s doctor.

Tips For Building a Strong Relationship

You might be new to caregiving entirely, or you might be exploring a new facet of your caregiving relationship. Regardless of where you are  in your caregiving journey, it is helpful to know different ways that you can build trust with your loved one’s doctors. Medical caregiving is a lifesaving service. That might feel like a lot of pressure at first, but with a few effective strategies, you can enrich the relationships between you, your loved one, and their care team.

Communicate Proactively

The foundation of “patient-centered care” is a doctor that zeroes in on your loved one’s needs. That focus will benefit from your input as a caregiver or advocate[5]. You should not be scared to add supplemental information or ask clarifying questions during an appointment. In fact, offering this information before a doctor has to ask will save time and help you build rapport with the doctor.

  • Take notes. There will be tons of information you need to keep track of and reference. 
  • Make sure questions/comments are concise, direct, and respectful.
  • Communicate with your loved one and the care team before the appointment.
  • Keep your loved one in the loop. 
  • Choose at-home tools that build your loved one’s confidence. A medical alert system allows your loved one to navigate home life knowing that they will be supported in the event of a fall. 

Be Assertive on Behalf of Your Loved One

As a caregiver, you need to be ready and willing to advocate for your loved one even when it feels a little nerve-wracking. You need to practice direct and honest communication without being rude. Doctors may treat you with apprehension if you come off too strong, so it is imperative that you can be assertive without crossing a line. Your loved one’s care depends on your ability to respectfully fight for their care. Aim to be positive, respectful, and knowledgeable when interacting with your loved one’s care team. 

  • Find confidence to communicate important information.
  • Use patience in frustrating situations in order to prioritize your loved one’s care.
  • Build strong relationships with the care team so that you have a comfortable rapport and can voice concerns.

Show Up When It’s Important

Medical issues can feel isolating, especially to seniors. If your loved one trusts that you will show up when it’s important, they can feel more comfortable in a care setting, and it is more likely that they will be receptive to future care plans.

Doctors see many patients a day, and medical environments are not necessarily welcoming to many seniors. By showing up on a regular basis, you are showing your loved one that someone is always in their corner. 

Your reliability and presence are an important part of your loved one’s continued care. Additionally, if you keep showing up to important appointments in a respectful, supportive manner, doctors and other members of your loved one’s care team will become increasingly comfortable with you.

  • Make time in your life for scheduled and unexpected medical support (Have childcare, if necessary, inform other people in your life of your caregiving responsibilities, etc.).
  • Take care of your mental health so you can fully show up in the difficult moments.
  • A medical alert system is a great supportive tool for when you can’t be there in-person. For example, set your loved one up with an On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert + GPS + Pedometer for their daily walks, so they can be connected to help if they fall and you’re not there.

Communication is Important with Both the Care Team And Your Loved One

It might seem like building trust with your loved one’s doctor is the hardest and most important piece of the caregiving puzzle. However, you must also maintain strong communication with your loved one. This might sound like a given, but some medical situations are high stress. Unexpected or upsetting news can disrupt otherwise normal rhythms. You must have a way to process your own emotions so that you can effectively communicate with your loved one. Caregiving and advocacy might be new additions to your existing relationship, and it takes time to develop a reliable, healthy system.  

It might be helpful to consider a communication system if you are navigating a new caregiving relationship or experiencing a communicative rough patch with your loved one. You could set aside time each week with your loved one to review appointments, medical updates, and their wellbeing. This weekly meeting would be a low-stress way to regularly check in with your loved one. Staying up to date on your loved one’s changing needs helps your caregiving be more responsive and supportive. 

Understanding a Senior’s Needs Can Help Get Them the Support They Need

As you are working to build trust with your loved one’s care team, make sure you are creating a comfortable environment at home, too. A medical alert system can make your loved one feel safe even when you are not around to care for them directly. 

1.     Figuring Out What Your Loved One Needs

Seniors who have fallen already can develop a fear of falling that ultimately restricts activity and mobility. If your loved one has a fall history, a medical alert system can restore confidence and trust in their daily activities[6].

The better communication you have with your loved one, the better you can respond to their needs, whether that means handling doctors’ appointments, or problem-solving at home. A medical alert system is a wonderful supplementary tool for your loved one’s in-home care plan. 

You will have extensive knowledge of your loved one’s needs and wants. This knowledge is a huge benefit in choosing a medical alert system. If your loved one spends most of their time at home, then choosing an In-Home + Fall Detection medical alert system best suits their needs. 

2.     Fall Detection Technology

Fall detection technology helps both you and your loved one. Your loved one might fall and not be able to press the button on their medical alert system. With fall detection technology, the sensor will register the fall and connect your loved one to one of our agents. Choosing an Alert1 medical alert system with fall detection technology provides peace-of-mind that your loved one will immediately get the help they need. 

Alert1’s 24/7 Command Center emergency response teams are staffed with highly trained and certified agents. In the event of any emergency, that agent will stay on the phone with your loved one until help arrives. 

3.     Affordable Monthly Plans

Some caregivers help loved ones with not only medical assistance, but financial management, as well. An understanding of your loved one’s financial situation informs medical decisions. Alert1 is a budget-friendly choice for seniors who want to prioritize safety without draining their savings. Plans start at under $20/month. Your loved one will never pay fees for “false alarms” or multiple button pushes.

 

 

 

 



[1] Breeding, Brad. 2015, Jan. 16. Seniors’ Relationship with Their Primary Care Doctor is Key. MyLifeSite.net. Seniors’ Relationship with Their Primary Care Doctor is Key.

[2] Breeding, Brad. 2015, Jan. 16. Seniors’ Relationship with Their Primary Care Doctor is Key. MyLifeSite.net. Seniors’ Relationship with Their Primary Care Doctor is Key.

[3] Allinson, Maria, Chaar, Betty. 2016, Nov. 15. How to build and maintain trust with patients. The Pharmaceutical Journal. How to build and maintain trust with patients.

[4] Weber, David Ollier. 2019, Feb. 11. How Many Patients Can a Primary Care Physician Treat? Physician Leadership. How Many Patients Can a Primary Care Physician Treat?

[5] O’Neill, Niall. 2015, May 15. The Eight Principles of Patient Centered Care. One View Health Care. The Eight Principles of Patient-Centered Care.

[6] Da Costa, Elise Mendes, et al. 2012, Jan. 3. Fear of falling and associated activity restriction in older people, results of a cross-sectional study conducted in a Belgian town. Archives of Public Health. Fear of falling and associated activity restriction in older people, results of a cross-sectional study conducted in a Belgian town.