Heath and Aging

Talking With Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People

Who Else Will Help? Involving Your Family and Friends

It can be helpful to take a family member or friend with you when you go to the doctor's office. You may feel more confident if someone else is with you. Also, a relative or friend can help remind you about things you planned to tell or ask the doctor. He or she also can help you remember what the doctor says.

cartoon of two people cheering for dad who is with doctor

Don't let your companion take too strong a role. The visit is between you and the doctor. You may want some time alone with the doctor to discuss personal matters. If you are alone with the doctor during or right after the physical exam, this might be a good time to raise private concerns. Or, you could ask your family member or friend to stay in the waiting room for part of the appointment. For best results, let your companion know in advance how he or she can be most helpful.

If a relative or friend helps with your care at home, bringing that person along when you visit the doctor may be useful. In addition to the questions you have, your caregiver may have concerns he or she wants to discuss with the doctor. Some things caregivers may find especially helpful to discuss are: what to expect in the future, sources of information and support, community services, and ways they can maintain their own well-being.

Even if a family member or friend can't go with you to your appointment, he or she can still help. For example, the person can serve as your sounding board, helping you practice what you want to say to the doctor before the visit. And after the visit, talking about what the doctor said can remind you of the important points and help you come up with questions to ask next time.

Publication Date: April 2010
Page Last Updated: October 11, 2011