Elder caregiving is a complicated enterprise, as most of you already know. Just staying on top of the medical appointments and general care while you try to juggle your “regular” life is probably about as much as you can manage.
But caregiving to someone with on-going medical problems calls for you to move into a higher level of care, and that’s where tracking comes in.
One of the workbooks that I’ve created is The Medical Journal, which contains pages for everything from your loved one’s health history to calendar templates so you can track appointments, to lists on which you can track all of the prescription medications, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and supplements that your loved one is taking.
That drug list is part of the tracking that you need to do to stay on top of the medical issues affecting your parent. And it is crucially important. It’s equally important to be sure that ALL of the doctors have copies of it so they ALL know about ALL of the drugs your loved one is taking. But tracking doesn’t stop there.
The point of this tracking is to provide detailed information to your loved one’s doctors so that they can use it to refine and direct the treatments they are prescribing. Here are some other places where you need to keep track of what’s going on with your patient’s medical treatment:
• Questions between appointments. There’s a page in The Medical Journal to write down the questions that come up between appointments. WRITE THEM DOWN! I guarantee you will not remember all of them the next time you get into that examining room with the doctor.
• Observations. This is another between-appointments necessity. The questions page in The Medical Journal can be used for this. These notes track the times when symptoms worsen and when they improve during the day or over the span of time between appointments.
• Logs. This type of page goes further than observations and would be used if your patient is experiencing a severe set of symptoms, such as incontinence, diarrhea, nausea, or pain attacks. Create a grid or spread sheet to record the time of day and when in relation to taking meds these severe symptoms occur. Such a log can help you and the medical team create a system of medication to manage the outbreaks of severe symptoms.