How to Help Your Aging Parents Get the Medical Care They Need

February 20, 2024

When one of your parents comes down with an illness or has a chronic condition, pay close attention. If an aging parent is dealing with even minor ills, it may be a sign of a serious condition.

As the primary caretaker, know the signs to look for to know whether to schedule an appointment with the physician, take your parent to the emergency room or call 911.

Who should you call?

A heart attack or stroke warrants a call to 911. Vascular blockage, which is a symptom of a stroke, is a serious matter, and the faster you can respond, the better. Remember FAST: Face, Arms, Speech, Time.

Slurred speech, chest pain and weakness in the face, legs or arms are just some of the symptoms of a stroke, but so is feeling very tired or short of breath.

Some of these symptoms can be the result of other conditions, like a cold or flu, but it’s always better to respond quickly.

If your parent is having a heart attack, he or she may be feeling weak, acting confused or dizzy. Feeling lethargic, having heartburn or falling are also a sign of a heart attack. Keep in mind that an elderly person may not exhibit the same heart attack signs that a younger person may display.

Don’t take these symptoms lightly. Call 911 or go straight to the hospital.

Communicating with health care professionals

When you arrive at the emergency room, give health care professionals a complete picture of your parent’s history. Here’s what you will need to know:

  • The medications your parent is taking
  • Any health conditions
  • Allergies to medications

Helping your parent from afar

If you don’t live near your parents, dealing with a medical problem can be more challenging.

Before your parent experiences an emergency, plan ahead to know how to respond. Collect the names and numbers of any friends and neighbors that live close to your parents. That way, if you call on your mom or dad and don’t get an answer, you can check in with friends and neighbors who can call on your parents and check on their condition.

Look up the numbers for the police in your parents’ town or city and have them ready to call if necessary. You can also call the non-emergency police department’s number and request that they perform a welfare check in the event you can’t reach your parent.

Helping a resistant parent

Whether or not you live near your parents, you may confront a situation in which your parent isn’t willing to go to the hospital. If this happens, be ready to talk about what would happen if they don’t seek treatment. Note the peace of mind everyone will have by getting the situation checked out by a professional.

You can also call their primary care physician for advice. Have your parent speak with a doctor or a nurse who can act as an unbiased third party.

Now that you have emergency procedures in place, you can rest easy knowing that when your parent needs immediate attention, you can put the plan into action and respond swiftly.

For help acquiring comprehensive Medicare health insurance for your aging parents, contact us here or at 800-722-7331.

This post was originally published in January 2017; updated Fevruary 2024.