Tips for Providing Long-Distance Assistance to Someone with an Orthopedic Condition

If you’re in a caregiver role to an older adult who needs orthopedic care, or will likely need orthopedic care soon, here are a few tips to help ensure they receive the orthopedic treatment they need.

Orthopedic services involve the treatment of the musculoskeletal system, which includes the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Among the elderly, the most common problems needing orthopedic care include osteoarthritis which leads to pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion in the knee joint, shoulder joint, hip joint, or elbow joint. Any acute or chronic pain involving the musculoskeletal system, however, warrants a trip to an orthopedic specialist for evaluation and treatment options.

  1. Open Lines of Communication
    • Ask the care recipient how you can best help them with their orthopedic needs: do you need to schedule an appointment for them, find a nearby qualified physical therapist and arrange transportation, or find a local caregiver? Who can come by and assist them with daily tasks that have become difficult due to an orthopedic issue?
    • Familiarize yourself as much as possible with the recipient’s current state of health, medications, or any recurring illnesses.
    • Research the particular orthopedic issue(s) the recipient has, speak with an orthopedic specialist about treatment options, possible surgery and recovery times, and preventive measures.
    • If it’s one of your parents who needs care, be sure to discuss finances with them regarding how any health services are to be paid, if bills should be mailed to you, or if you should become authorized to handle medical bills and insurance claims.
  2. Find an Orthopedic Specialist
    • Recommendations from friends and neighbors is a great place to start. Have the care recipient ask people who are in their social circle if they have a preferred orthopedic practice or specialist they are happy with.
    • Get recommendations from the recipient’s primary physician. They are more likely to be familiar with the type of orthopedic problem they are at most risk for and can recommend the most appropriate specialist.
    • Do a Google search for the best orthopedic doctor near the recipient’s address.
  3. Develop a Team
    • Create a contact list of names, phone numbers, and email addresses of the recipient’s doctors, caregivers, and neighbors.
    • Make sure there is someone who can enter their home in case of an emergency, have an extra set of keys in a safe place (like with a neighbor), and write down the code of the burglar alarm system if there is one.
    • Keep family members, friends, caregivers, dog walkers, etc. in the loop and be sure they have a way to contact you if necessary.
  4. Visit – As Much as Possible
    • Visit whenever you can and also coordinate frequent visits from other family members, friends, and neighbors to provide emotional support, assistance, and to keep track of their orthopedic condition.
    • Call or video chat on a regular basis also, to check-in and provide comfort in lieu of visits.

Remember, different orthopedic problems require different types of care. Finding an orthopedic specialist experienced to handle the unique condition of your care giving recipient is key to a quick recovery and efficient treatment. Also, it’s important the care recipient likes his or her orthopedic doctor, especially if they require long-term treatment. If possible, try to be there during their first visit, so you are familiar with their Orthopedic doctor as well.

For more information about how an Orthopedic specialist can help you or a loved one, contact one of the orthopedic experts at Coastal Orthopedics today at 941-792-1404.