How to Find the Right Doctor for Your Senior Parent or Loved One
- January 29, 2024
- 5 minute read
- Allison Tierney
If you're a caregiver for your parents or other aging loved one, at some point you may need to find the right doctor for their current health needs.
Maybe mom's doctor retired, or dad moved from another city to live with you. If your parent's condition changes or they receive a new diagnosis, they might need specialized care. In the case of dementia or Alzheimer's, you may need to look for a doctor who can offer advice on care, treatment and quality of life.
Finding the right doctor may seem overwhelming with so many physicians and specialists available.
ArchWell Health has your back! Here, we’ll offer 7 steps to guide this important search.
1. Review your parents' insurance plan
To get started, check your parent's insurance plan to understand their coverage, deductibles and co-pays.
Medicare can seem complex. But there are many resources to help you and your loved one understand how to pay for their healthcare needs. Many adults over 65 enroll in traditional Medicare plans that include Medicare Part A coverage for hospital stays and Medicare Part coverage for doctors visits and other services.
Other older adults choose a Medicare Advantage plan instead, known as Medicare Part C or an "MA" plan. ArchWell Health partners with several Medicare Advantage plans to provide healthcare services.
Medicare Advantage plans include Medicare Part A, Part B and usually a prescription drug plan, Part D. Medicare advantage plans are offered by Medicare-approved private insurance companies who partner with Medicare to offer affordable health plans. You may even be able to select a plan with no premiums.
- You can learn more about Medicare Advantage here: Medicare Advantage 101
You should also find out if your loved one qualifies for Medicaid, which can work with their Medicare Advantage plan to help cover healthcare expenses and provide additional benefits like lower prescription drug costs and transportation assistance.
Finally, if your parent has an employer health plan as part of their retirement package, you'll need to review it and see what's covered.
Closely review your parent's health plan(s) for rules on using in-network providers. That way, you can search for a doctor that's in-network so your parent can save money on healthcare
Knowing your parents' health plan coverage will help you find the right doctor for your parents at the most affordable cost.
2. Consider how value-based care can help your loved one
ArchWell Health members aged 60 and over receive ValYou CareTM, a unique approach to value-based care and wellness programs. Value-based care is a model where a team of doctors and other healthcare providers work together to prevent illness and provide personalized care.
ValYou Care services include:
- Longer appointments to discuss health concerns with the doctor
- Primary care visits whenever your parent needs them
- On-site testing and health screenings
- 24-hour phone support
- Same-day sick appointments
- Telehealth appointments
- Referrals to specialists
Call ArchWell Health to see how ValYou CareTM can help your parent live a healthy, independent life.
3. Talk with your parents about their health and wellness goals
Once you and your loved one understand their health plan coverage, it's time to discuss their health and wellness goals. For example, your parents may have concerns about cancer, heart disease or dementia. They may need help managing diabetes, depression or other health conditions.
If left undetected or untreated, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions can worsen and become more serious.
ArchWell Health offers cancer screenings and a long list of important preventive screenings to detect early heart disease, depression, diabetes and more. The sooner these conditions are detected, the better the treatment options.
A healthy lifestyle and diet is a huge part of aging well. That’s why as ArchWell Health members, your parents can also receive a customized nutrition education plan.
Staying socially engaged is important for wellness too. Loneliness and isolation can raise the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, according to the National Council on Aging.
Reduce these risks by staying connected to a community and social network. If your parent wants to meet new friends, ArchWell Health offers many events and classes for members to stay active and socialize, including:
- Exercise, strength training, Zumba, Tai Chi, Pilates and chair yoga classes
- Canvas painting
- Board games
- Lunch and learn events
- Social events
4. Check into transportation assistance
As a caregiver for an aging parent, you may be driving them back and forth to doctor's appointments and errands. However, caregivers can often use an extra hand with this task, especially if they're working. Let us help! We can arrange transportation if needed so your parent always has a ride to their ArchWell Health medical appointments and community activities.
5. Find healthcare provider locations
With locations and healthcare providers in multiple U.S. cities, ArchWell Health's Find a Provider Near You search tool can help you find the right doctor for your parents. You can search by:
- Provider name
- Care focus
- Zip code
- Distance up to 75 miles
- Preferred gender
- Preferred language
Discuss the search terms and results with your parents, asking their preferences to make the best choices together.
6. Consider a doctor who specializes in elder care.
When choosing the right doctor for your aging parents, consider a primary care provider that specializes in senior primary care, such as a geriatrician. Doctors and nurse practitioners can both specialize in geriatrics. Geriatricians have an in-depth knowledge of all things elder care.
A geriatrician also specializes in treating people with multiple chronic conditions. They can help your parent know what to expect as they age, recommend accommodations, or prepare for changes that affect their body and cognitive abilities. A geriatrician can:
- Diagnose and treat medical conditions
- Prescribe medications
- Watch for medication side effects and adjust prescriptions when necessary
- Refer your parents to specialists
- Discuss your parents' daily functioning and guide tough decisions, such as when it’s time to stop driving or living alone
- Help with end of life planning and advance directives
7. Meet with a social worker at the new primary care center
Once you find the right doctor for your parents, meet with a social worker at the new practice to discuss your parents' social and behavioral needs. A social worker can help you and your parents locate safe housing, food and nutrition assistance, mental health counseling and more. They can also point you to classes, educational offerings and social activities offered by ArchWell Health.
The social worker can provide a list of community resources for caregivers too, such as local or virtual support groups. A social worker may also be able to discuss long-term planning for your parents’ changing needs, including long-term care costs and options.
ArchWell Health is here to help
Navigating the aging process can be challenging for you and your parent. Fortunately, ArchWell Health is here to help your parent with their medical needs and wellness goals through our ValYou CareTM program.
Call ArchWell Health today to find out more about the many advantages and health benefits of ValYou CareTM.
Find your local ArchWell Health phone number here: Call Now
About the Author
Allison Tierney, Communications Manager
Allison Tierney works to promote ArchWell Health's services across the country. With years of experience in public policy and non-profit organizations, Tierney understands how difficult it can be for seniors to access reliable and trustworthy information about disease management, health insurance, nutrition and more. That's why she writes accessible posts that older adults and their caregivers can rely on.