Does your mom get “white coat” symptom when you say “Doctor appointment”

My blood pressure is what!

My blood pressure is what!

The stress of going to the doctor increases with age. Understanding that fact will help you with getting your parent to the doctor. My mom used to hate going to the doctor so much that her blood pressure would skyrocket… classic “white coat syndrome.” Offering to accompany her helped since my siblings and I could help ask questions that she would often be fearful of asking or forget to ask.

How to Get Older Parents to the Doctor

Take advantage of the new medicare annual physical to get your parents to the doctor.  This is an annual physical that medicare pays for and it is suppose to include questions about your mental health including dementia/Alzheimer.  This is a great time for you, as the child, to learn more about your parent’s health.

Things To Do Before You Go

Talk with your parents about why they are going to the doctor ahead of time. Help them make a written list of questions they would like to ask.  Some folks fax the list to the doctor’s nurse before the appointment so the doctor can prepare themselves including getting appropriate insurance coding.   Sometimes a doctor won’t discus anything but the explicit thing you requested the appointment for as the insurance company will only pay for certain services.

Things to Do at the Appointment

Ask questions of the doctor if you don’t understand an answer. If you don’t understand, it is likely your parent didn’t either. When I used to visit the cardiologist with my mom he would start talking in rapid-fire medical terms that even I could not understand. I would ask him to slow down and explain it in layman’s language.  This saved my mother from the embarrassment of saying she did not understand.

After Your Parent’s Appointment

Generally, at a doctor’s appointment my mom was so scared that afterward she did not remember anything.  After we got home (and her blood pressure went down), I would go back over the questions and answers with her so she could understand the doctor’s recommendations.  I would often hear, the doctor said that?

Getting the Prescriptions

Accompanying a parent to the pharmacy for any prescriptions is an excellent idea. Let the pharmacist explain the medication, its effects, and the recommended dosage and frequency. Take notes to post for your parent at home, in case they forget or have trouble reading small print on the label.


Being proactive with your parent’s health pays huge dividends. Remember to talk before the appointment, make a list of questions, get answers in plain language, and review the information outside the doctors office.


Dave Nelson

Care of our aging parents is the focus of Dave Nelson. Dave is the owner and director of Griswold Home Care Registry in Portland, Oregon, an in-home care company. He faces questions every day from family members about their aging parents and how they can help them age gracefully.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply