Make a list of your medications before a doctor's visit

You arrive at the office of a doctor you're seeing for the first time, and after handing over your insurance card and driver's license, you're given a clipboard with pages and pages of forms to fill out.

After sighing to yourself - how many times in your life are you going to have to write down that you had your tonsils out when you were 6 and broke your right wrist when you were 13, and that your father died of a heart attack? - You settle in to the task of completing the forms.

Bring list of questions, concerns to doctor appointment

How can you ensure that you tell the doctor everything you meant to? Prepare a focused one-page note covering your key points, and give it to the nurse or aide who takes you to an exam room and checks your temperature and blood pressure. Ask her to give it to the doctor.

Risks abound when you get out of the hospital

How do you feel when you hear that a friend or relative is in the hospital? A little nervous? Hoping that everything goes well and that your loved one will soon be home? Those are understandable reactions.

And what do you think when you hear that they've been sent home? That they're out of the woods now - at least as far as any dangers associated with being hospitalized are concerned -- and you can stop worrying?

The facts suggest something different.

The future of retirement care: the Green House model

This is the 40th and final column in a series of articles intended to demystify retirement living options. Due to reader interest, I will publish these 40 columns as a collection in a paperback book, and will announce its availability as soon as it is ready.

What do you think of when you hear the term "green house?" A glass building intended to house tender plants? A home that is a model of energy efficiency, perhaps producing as much power as it uses?

Get ready for a third meaning.

How to resolve complaints about senior living problems

This is the 39th in a series of articles intended to demystify retirement living options.

If you feel that the care your relative is receiving in assisted living or nursing/skilled nursing isn't acceptable, what can you do? First, talk with a nurse or the individual identified as responsible for your loved one's care. If you aren't satisfied with the results of that conversation, speak with the individual in charge of the assisted living or long-term care unit.

More ways to stay on top of your loved one's care in long-term care

This is the thirty-eighth in a series of articles intended to demystify retirement living options.

Previous articles mentioned that you can read your loved one’s medical chart and participate in care planning conferences. This article offers additional suggestions about how you might get – and keep -- yourself in the loop.

Use quarterly care planning conferences to get better care for loved ones in nursing/skilled nursing facilities

This is the thirty-seventh in a series of articles intended to demystify retirement living options.

Many people are involved in caring for your friend or relative in a nursing or skilled nursing facility (long-term care facility): doctors, nurses, aides, dieticians, activities staff, social workers, possibly physical and occupational therapists, perhaps companions who don’t perform medical services, and so forth.

How can you get attention to questions, concerns, or suggestions you have when a topic may involve several different departments?

Read medical chart of elderly relative to avert mistakes

This is the thirty-sixth in a series of articles intended to demystify retirement living options.

The last several articles in this series described some of the sorts of problems that can arise in even well-run assisted living or skilled nursing facilities. How can you tell if your friend or relative is subject to errors or oversights in care? A good first step is to read their medical chart. To do that, you need legal authorization.

Ensuring that personal quirks don't prevent your loved one from getting the right care in assisted living or skilled nursing

This is the thirty-fifth in a series of articles intended to demystify retirement living options.

You may assume that your loved one is getting all the expected care in assisted living or nursing/skilled nursing. But sometimes, quirky problems disrupt the established routines in the facility, and care can suffer as a result.

Make sure that care your elderly relative needs isn't omitted in assisted living or a nursing facility

This is the thirty-fourth in a series of articles intended to demystify retirement living options.

The previous article discussed how duplicate prescriptions might arise, overdosing your loved one who lives in assisted living or nursing/skilled nursing. This article discusses the opposite problem: how needed care may be omitted.

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