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by Abigail Van Buren

Elderly Parents Practice Selective Hearing in Doctors' Offices

DEAR ABBY: I am the caregiver for my 88-year-old mom and 89-year-old dad. It has its challenges. It would help if doctors would provide written instructions, diagnoses and directions rather than rely on me to follow through. I take notes, but my parents hear what they want to hear. Without an actual note from the doctor, they tend to dismiss my notes as "that's not what he/she said." I'm sure I am not the only caregiver with this problem.

Recently, Mama's gynecologist advised her to see a urologist. It took me more than a month to convince her that it was what he said, and now we are looking at a urinary tract infection, which is not a good thing for an older woman.

My parents are not at the point where I can simply kidnap them. I realize doctors don't get paid enough for their time by Medicare, but it sure would help us keep our elders healthy. -- NOTE TAKER IN GEORGIA

DEAR NOTE TAKER: May I offer a suggestion that might prove helpful? When you take your parents for doctors' visits, record what you are told on your cellphone (in notes/memos). That way, you can replay the doctors' words verbatim regarding any diagnoses, instructions, etc. to your parents as necessary.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety