Prepare for the Doctor's Appointment: Tips for Caregivers

If you are a caregiver, either a family member or a professional personal care aide, an important part of being a caregiver is to work with doctors and other healthcare professionals who are involved in caring for the patient. You may find it advantageous to accompany the patient to the doctor on the next scheduled visit. So here are some tips to help you prepare for the doctor’s appointment and be an ally and advocate for the individual in your care.

Talk to the patient – Before the medical appointment, ask the patient, other family members, and any other caregivers how they think you can be the most helpful during the visit to the doctor, and if they have any questions or concerns they would like you to bring up.

Questions – Prepare for the doctor’s appointment by making a list of questions for the doctor, the answers to which are important to you and the person you are taking care of.

Take notes – Listen carefully when the doctor answers questions, and take notes so that you don’t have to rely on your memory later.

(Both your questions and your written notes will help with the care of the patient when they’re back at home. You may need to remind the patient about what the doctor said, and you may also need to pass on information to another family member or caregiver.)

Let the patient talk – Let the patient answer the doctor’s questions unless you have been specifically asked to do so. Try not to let the consultation become a two-way conversation between the doctor and yourself.

Medications – Bring a complete list of ALL medicines (both prescription and non-prescription) and dietary supplements the patient is taking. Include the dosage and schedule for each medication. (The patient may be seeing more than one medical professional, and the doctor may not necessarily know everything that is being prescribed.)

Privacy – Respect the patient’s privacy, and leave the room if necessary.

Community resources – If community resources are called for, ask the doctor which ones he/she recommends. Larger medical practices, hospitals, and nursing homes may have a social worker on staff who can provide valuable suggestions about community resources.

Are You Concerned About Signs of Depression?

If you are worried that the patient might be depressed, you might want to discuss this with the doctor before the appointment. You don’t want to embarrass the patient by blurting this out during the consultation. Be aware that depression is a medical condition rather than a normal part of the aging process. Emotions like sadness, grief, and passing attacks of the “blues” happen to everybody, but continuing depression that adversely impacts daily living is not okay. Keep in mind that even some health professionals seem to think depression is a standard response to illnesses and other problems that arise when people grow older, so make sure the doctor is listening to your concerns and recommending treatment.

Good Communication is Key

Good communication between the doctor, the patient, and the patient’s caregivers is an essential part of getting the best medical care. So take the time to prepare for a doctor’s appointment well in advance. If the patient is not a fluent English speaker, consider taking an interpreter along. At Caring Healthcare, our caregivers will help the patient and their family prepare for the doctor’s appointment, accompany the patient to the doctor and make sure that all the questions relating to the patient’s health get answered. We provide in-home health care for the elderly, special needs children, and people with disabilities. Get in touch with us to see how we can help your family.