How to Talk with Doctors and Other Health Care Providers

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As a caregiver, you have an important role in your loved one's health. You know the person well. You might be the first to notice changes in behavior or appearance. This information is useful to doctors and other health care providers. It?s important you learn about your loved one?s health condition and health concerns. You can also help your loved one talk to the doctor about his or her health. You can watch to see what is working and what is not.

Getting ready for the visit to the doctor
Keep all health care information in one place. Use a binder that holds a notebook and a folder for important papers. Here is the information to include:

  • Names of your doctors and other providers, including dentists, eye doctor, pharmacy, home care or equipment, therapy vendors.
  • Phone numbers and addresses for those listed above.
  • A list of all the medicine you take, including doses and how often you take them.
  • Be sure to include vitamins, supplements and other over the counter items. Health insurance information.
  • Copies of any test results you may have.
  • Any health measures you take, such as blood pressure, weight, temperature, pulse, blood glucose, peak flow meter or others. Be sure to include any special notes you may have.
  • Name and contact information for your caregiver, power of attorney and next of kin

Between Visits

  • Write any questions or thoughts in a notebook as you get ready for the doctor visit.
  • Be clear about what you want to say and also what information you need.
  • Before the doctor visit sit down with your loved one and arrange the questions from most important to least.
  • If your loved one is embarrassed to talk about certain problems, explain that doctors have heard these things before and want to help.
  • Ask yourself:
    • Are there any concerns from previous visits that need to be raised again?
    • Are there any new problems to ask the doctor about?
    • Are there any questions about medications or treatment?
    • Are there any tests that need to be done?

What to Bring to the Appointment

  • Help your loved one gather all medications, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbal remedies to bring to the appointment.
  • Bring the binder. Share your list with the doctor so you can review it together.

At the Appointment

  • Share your list of concerns with the doctor.
  • Take notes about what the doctor recommends.
  • Ask questions - make sure you and your loved one understand what the doctor is saying.
  • Ask if vaccines are up-to-date.?
  • Ask if it's time for any routine screenings (mammogram, PAP, prostate)
  • At the end of visit, review the next steps with the doctor: what he or she is going to do and what the patient is going to do.
  • Schedule a follow-up appointment if needed.

If you are caring for a parent or other adult and do not have power of attorney, you will need that persons written permission to talk to their doctor. If you can?t be present at an appointment, the doctor might be able to call you to discuss your concerns if the patient has signed his or her consent. Talk to the health care provider if you have any questions.

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