Q. My mother has become very anxious about speaking to her doctor as she has aged. What can her doctor and I do to ensure that my mother’s medical needs are being met?
A. Anxiety is often witnessed in the aging patient; however, it is not a natural result of aging. It is important to have a meeting with your mother’s doctor explaining her anxiety, and concerns. Depression could be a cause of her anxiety as it is common in the geriatric population but often under diagnosed. Other medical conditions should be considered as there may be a physical cause for her anxiety. In the elderly, there often seems to be a reluctance to give full disclosure of medical issues or concerns. Thus, diagnosis of medical problems remains difficult, and real health concerns may actually remain disguised. Try to go to the next doctor visit with your mother’s permission. Making sure that you understand the directions the doctor is giving your mother can help calm her fears. Reminding her of what the doctor said once she is no longer in the doctor’s office can help her think through her anxiety and give her reassurance. The importance of the trust your mother places in her doctor cannot be underestimated. If that trust is not there, her anxiety will remain. If you cannot help with the communication necessary to develop that trust, it may be time to find a new doctor.
Kenneth L. Scott Jr., M.D.
Life Care Centers of America
3001 Keith Street NW C
leveland, TN 37312