Tags: senior | health | companion | doctor | visits

Seniors Partner Up for Docs

Friday, 24 February 2012 11:51 AM

Doctors say they are seeing more elderly patients who show up for health appointments with a spouse or family member – and that buddy system may improve their care, a new study finds.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported about one-third of older patients bring a family companion to physician visits. Three-quarters are usually accompanied by the same person, who can become a key partner in the patient’s care, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

"Our study documents that the patient-provider relationship often includes a consistently present and actively engaged family member," said lead author Jennifer L. Wolff. “This work suggests that quality of care improvements may result from more productive communication and education that targets both patients and their companions."

Wolff and her colleagues analyzed a national survey of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 years and older. They found nearly 35.5 percent of patients who attended visits with companions were physically disabled and received help with daily activities from that person.

Patient companions tended to provide important information directly to the doctor during such visits (70.5 percent), asked the doctor questions (67.1 percent) and explained the doctor's instructions to the patient (54.5 percent).

"Results from this study may help inform health reform initiatives that seek to improve care quality and lower costs, such as the Patient Centered Medical Home," said Wolff.

© HealthDay

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Many seniors take a companion to doctor visits and that buddy system could improve their care.
Friday, 24 February 2012 11:51 AM
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