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Speak Up to Avoid Diagnostic Errors

By Lauren Robinson, 2:57 pm on

When speaking with a physician about health problems, being honest about all signs and symptoms is important. Your loved one’s doctor needs all the information possible to make an accurate diagnosis. However, there are common reasons why seniors do not always speak up during consultation and these should be kept in mind if you feel like your loved one is not being forthright about his or her health.

  1. Embarrassment – If your loved one’s health care problem is sexual or involves the bowel or bladder, he or she may have difficulty speaking up because of embarrassment or shame. In former generations, talking about these subjects was simply not done and getting past that taboo is challenging. If you care for an aging parent or loved one, you may have to open that conversation, with something like, “I’ve noticed that dad is spending more time in the bathroom lately” in order to get the ball rolling. If you feel like it would be easier for your family member to talk without you in the room, excuse yourself and come back later to give your loved one privacy.
  2. Noncompliance – Another reason your loved one may not be speaking up about health concerns is because he or she may not want to admit to being noncompliant. This can be a particular problem with diabetics who ignore their diet or people with high blood pressure who do not watch their salt intake. If your loved one does admit to you and your doctor that he or she has not been following the plan of care, be non-judgmental and do not chide. However, at the same time, re-emphasize how important compliance is for managing a chronic disease.
  3. Fear – Another common reason why seniors do not report symptoms is fear. For example, your loved one might eventually tell you or the doctor that they have been having periodic abdominal pain for months, but did not say anything about it because “I did not want to worry anyone.” However, the motivating factor for keeping silent is often fear of what the diagnosis will be. Fear of cancer is particularly strong among the elderly, whether the fear is founded or not. Therefore, if you suspect there is a problem like pain or weakness that is not being talked about, report it to your doctor.

Finding ways around these barriers to communication is important for an accurate diagnosis and treatment for your loved one. If you are unable to accompany your loved one to his or her regular medical appointments, call Home Care Assistance of New Hampshire. While we specialize in 24 hour home care, we also offer hourly home care in New Hampshire which is ideal for seniors who need reliable transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, medication reminders, and minimal assistance with activities of daily living and personal care.

To learn more about our flexible care plans, call 603-471-3004 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultations so we can further discuss the care needs of your aging parent or loved one.