Doctor's Appointments: Tips for Caregivers
Working with doctors and other healthcare professionals can be an important part of being a caregiver. 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.
If you go with the person you care for to see his or her doctor, here are a few tips that will help you be an ally and an advocate:
- Bring a list of questions, starting with what is most important to you and the person, and take notes on what the doctor recommends. Ask the person in advance how you can be most helpful during the visit. Both the questions and the notes you write down can be helpful later, either to give information to another caregiver or family member, or to remind the patient what the doctor said.
- Before the appointment, ask the person and the other caregivers if they have any questions or concerns they would like you to bring up.
- Bring a list of ALL medicines and dietary supplements the person is taking, both prescription and over-the-counter, and include the dosage and schedule. If he or she sees several different doctors, one may not necessarily know what another has prescribed.
- When the doctor asks a question, let the person answer unless you have been asked to do so.
- It’s easy to get into a two-way conversation between the doctor and yourself—try not to do this. Always include both the person you care for and the doctor when you talk.
- Respect the person’s privacy, and leave the room when necessary.
- If you live out of town, talk to the doctor about how you can keep up to date on the person’s health since you live out of town.
- Ask the doctor to recommend helpful community resources.
- Larger medical practices, hospitals, and nursing homes may have a social worker on staff. The social worker may have valuable suggestions about community resources and other information.
Learn more about doctor-patient communication.
This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.
Content reviewed: May 01, 2017