A Geriatrician’s Take on Elders Who Refuse to Go to the Doctor



Unwell elderly lady being given a cup of tea and lemon

Caring for the elderly can be difficult at times. This is not only because of the changes in approach that you must take, but also the approach to heath that they might have. Sometimes, elderly people may not feel it necessary to see a GP over something like coughs, colds and flu which can lead to further complications. It is recommended to try and learn the reasons behind your elderly loved one refusing to go to a doctor, as there are many reasons why they may avoid it.


Following is an exerpt written By Robert Stall, MD

You think your parent is showing signs of dementia. They live alone, rarely answer the phone or doorbell, the house smells like urine, and they’re wearing the same filthy clothes every time you see them. Obviously, you’re concerned and think they should be evaluated by a doctor. The problem is that your loved one flat out refuses to attend any doctor’s appointments. What can well-meaning family members do in a situation like this?

Dr. Robert Stall, a practicing geriatrician based in Buffalo, New York, with more than 20 years of experience, says the first step is to try to understand what is behind an elderly loved one’s refusal to go to the doctor. There are countless reasons why seniors avoid physicians, even despite showing symptoms of potentially serious conditions. Fear, denial, thriftiness, distrust, embarrassment and discomfort are common reasons that cause older individuals to dig their heels in when it’s time for an annual physical or to check out a new or worsening problem.

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can complicate matters further by making it difficult or even impossible to reason with a senior and drive home the importance of monitoring their health. Some older individuals even cease going to their primary care physician (PCP), whom they previously trusted and had a good doctor-patient relationship with. So, it comes as no surprise that bringing a new doctor, such as a specialist, into the mix could cause issues.

“Elders usually develop a level of trust and respect when they’ve been going to the same doctor for a long time,” explains Dr. Stall. “Adding a new person into the equation could bring on feelings of vulnerability, distrust and fear of the unknown.” Dealing with these feelings can be difficult, but there are strategies caregivers can use to work through these concerns and ensure their loved ones receive the medical care they need.

Find full article here www.agingcare.com