Remember House Calls?

Doctor with stethoscope measuring the blood pressure

The practice of medicine has changed dramatically in the last 75 years. Most of us over 50 years old remember the doctor making house calls when we developed a virus or were physically in some form of distress.

Home visits became a thing of the past when pay-as-you-go fees were replaced by health insurance. Administrative costs and malpractice insurance forced doctors to enter group practices to manage workload and costs.

Particularly for seniors, having gone through the transition of a changing medical system: busy waiting rooms, long waits, and a sterile exam room is still a big adjustment. The growing impersonal nature of visiting the doctor’s office, often becomes a deterrent for “seeing a doctor”. Many older people still have a hard time understanding that the doctor can only spend 15-20 minutes with them even if all of their concerns have not been met or questions answered.

Frequently it is either too physically difficult or too stressful to get to the office. A lack of transportation or a fear of having to go alone are common obstacles to making or keeping an appointment.

The importance of finding a primary care doctor that you feel comfortable with is imperative. Doctors specializing in geriatrics are usually more tuned in to senior sensibilities and are frequently more accommodating.

Slowly, home care doctor visits are starting to make somewhat of a comeback, other than for just those who are home bound. Technology has enabled health care providers to have records on hand and perform simple procedures like taking blood and x-rays.

If you are helping to care for an aging loved one who is reluctant or unable to visit an office, ask your doctor if they provide home service or know anyone who does. Your local hospital might also be able to make recommendations.

As lifespans increase, the medical community continues to evolve in an attempt to meet the needs of the elderly. Stay informed and continue to do research. Knowing your options will help you or your loved one age gracefully.