Earlier this month, I was in Albany, Georgia, for our first annual Albany Fearless Caregiver Conference co-hosted with the good folks at the Alzheimer’s Outreach Center and SOWEGA. It was a remarkable event for me in so many ways. It was my first time back in Albany since my college days (somewhere way-way back in the last century) when I was at FSU in northern Florida.
I would on occasion want to take my car out for about 90 minutes out just to get out on the road and inevitably, the destination was always Albany, Georgia. (Or as an old-timer told me way back when, “Call it Albinny or leave”). My friends there now kind of chuckle and point at me derisively when I do that, so I don’t say that anymore. Much has changed there, but the friendliness and nice town feel remains the same to this date.
One of the great changes that have happened in Albany is the construction of the brand new Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center where we were lucky enough to hold the event with Kay H. Hind herself in attendance. When I started running around the country talking about Today’s Caregiver magazine twenty years ago and trying as much as possible to be of service to family caregivers, one of the first people who took me under their wing was Kay H. Hind. I will never forget her kindness.
By the way, our keynote speaker was none other than Leisa Easom, PhD, RN, Executive Director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and Pope Eminent Scholar. What a day!
There were so many lessons that I learned from these two icons, but also from the family caregivers in attendance. The first I want to talk about is an extension of something I always say to caregivers. And it has to do with the doctor’s office visit.
We all have memories of waiting in the exam room with our loved one counting up the important questions we need to ask the physician, only to find those questions and the will to ask them evaporate into thin air as the doctor walks through the door. But there are things we can do to get those questions answered.
To recap some of the tips I have learned from family caregivers about partnering with your loved ones doctors:
- Try limiting the questions to one or two that can’t be answered elsewhere.
- As the doctor walks in, mention you might need a few minutes to ask the questions.
- Bring a small digital tape recorder or use an audio recorder on your smart phone, so you don’t drive away wondering what it was that he or she just said.
A caregiver in Albany raised her hand and, in fact, added a very important tip to the list when she said that she always has good luck by sending, in writing, her concerns and questions to the physician’s office in advance of the appointment date.
Hmm, successfully partnering with her loved one's family physician staff to get her questions answered. There’s a whole lot of Fearless Caregiving going on in South Georgia!
Now you know why I always have Georgia on My Mind