Caregiver Guide: 7 Questions to Ask the Doctor About Prescriptions

Helping a family member or friend with medicine can raise many questions and concerns—especially when more than 1 medicine is involved. Your first stop for finding answers to these questions? The health care provider. Use this list of questions to get the dialogue rolling. Bring a notebook and pen with you, too—the answers can be detailed, and it’s good to take notes.

  1. What is the name of the medicine? What is it for and why does the person in my care need it? How can it help?
  2. Do you need to know any additional information about the person in my care before prescribing this medicine?
  3. What, if anything, should I know about or be aware of when giving this medicine?
  4. When and how often should I give the medicine? Try to ask specific questions. For example, if the health care provider says you should give the medicine 4 times a day, does that mean every 6 hours or 4 times during the daytime? Or, what does "as needed" mean?
  5. Should the medicine be taken with meals? Should it be taken on an empty stomach? Are there any foods or situations the person I am caring for should avoid while taking this medicine?
  6. What side effects can occur? What kinds of things should I report to you?
  7. What should I do if I forget to give a dose?

Tip: How You Can Help the Doctor

It’s common for people to have more than one health care provider prescribing medication. As a caregiver, you can help by making sure each provider knows about any medicine the person in your care is taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, as well as any vitamins, supplements, or herbal remedies. Information like this can help the health care provider get a clearer picture of the current needs of the person in your care.

Make a list of all medicines and bring it with you to office visits. Be sure to talk about any allergies to or side effects from certain medicines that the person in your care may have. You can write down information about medicine and any allergies or side effects in a notebook.

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