By Kaye Swain
Stress tests! Just thinking about taking one can cause our senior parents to "stress out" over what is coming. That definitely happened to my senior mom. But the appointment was scheduled (way too early in the morning, she thought - another stress), the list of medications she couldn't take before the test was pasted on her mirror, and reminders to not drink or eat after midnight were taped to the bathroom and kitchen sink handles as well as the door to the refrigerator. We've found that to be a simple way to prevent accidentally forgetting procedure rules in the middle of the night - for both of us.
Up at 5 a.m. the next day to get ready, we headed for the doctor's office at 7:15 a.m. Once there, we discovered it was to be a day full of "hurry up and wait" in between a few simple procedures. Even the famous (infamous?) walk on the treadmill was quick and easy, followed by more waiting. My senior mom was delighted that the treadmill walk was shorter than her usual daily walks on her own treadmill.
During the day, we enjoyed a few short chats with others who were also waiting in the stress test waiting area and came up with some simple tips to remember for the next time, as well as to share with you:
- If your procedure is similar to ours, you will probably spend several hours at the doctor's office. Be sure to bring books, magazines, a knitting project, an iPad, etc. to while away the time.
- Bring a big tote bag to hold those books as well as any clothes that have to be removed for a period of time.
- Wear something comfortable and easy to take off and put back on. Women, in particular, will be happier if they wear tops that do not need to be pulled over their hair.
- Check with your own doctor's office to see if they don't want you to wear clothes with buttons and/or zippers that are metal. Unbeknownst to us, hat was a requirement for our doctor's equipment. My senior mother ended up having to take her jacket (with metal zipper) off and on several times - an easy thing for me to do, but painful for her due to shoulder bursitis, not to mention making her a bit on the chilly side as well.
- Prepare your parent that they may have to sit or stand in uncomfortable positions for a few minutes at a time. In addition, tell each person working with your parent at the doctor's office about any pain or health issues that curtail free range of motion. If the staff is aware of that in advance, they might be able to modify different maneuvers to make a procedure easier for your aging parent. Even if you told one staff person, though, they don't always communicate the information with others, so I would repeat it to all the people you work with.
- If you or your parent discover that some stickers have been left on after a test (such as the stickers for an EKG), don't remove them without asking first. Sometimes they leave them on for a future test.
Overall, the day went well and my senior mom passed with flying colors. If we'd known these simple tips, it would have gone even easier for her. Hopefully they will be a help to you and your senior parents when they take their own stress test.