How important is good communication between doctors and my elderly parent?

Honest and sensitive communication between doctors, patients and families is the key to better health decisions.  As people get older, there are unique issues that may change the communication strategy.  For example, 30% of people over the age of 80 have dementia. In that case, communication must become a family affair. Also, because there is no single health professional whose responsibility it is to see the full picture of health in an older person, this full picture is often not communicated. You and your family need to know how each health issue will impact upon your overall health and quality of life.  Your doctor should describe your health issues in detail and what to expect in the future. Since you are the centre of the communication process amongst a number of health professionals, it is up to you to ensure that you receive a full and comprehensive picture from each one in a manner that creates a “true picture” for decision making.  You are encouraged to bring as many of the health professionals into the same room at the same time with your family to build an integrated foundation of information for decision making that directly represents the elderly person.
Shelley Webb
Nursing Specialist
Clear communication between a doctor and patient is vital to ensure that seniors receive the best medical care possible. Effective verbal communication helps the doctor gain insight into possible medical problems that the patient may be experiencing, and also ensures that the patient comprehends the instructions provided by the doctor. As is often the case with seniors, several barriers exist that can cause communication issues which may stand in the way of optimal medical care.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.