Attention Caregivers: How to Make the Most of Physician Visits

Some people rely on loved ones who take on a much larger caregiving role— attending doctor visits, administering medication, and agreeing to be on call when necessary. If you’re a caregiver, learning all you can about your loved one’s condition and opening up the lines of communication with the health care provider are an important part of getting the best treatment for the loved one in your care.

The following advice can help you make the most of your conversations with the health care provider.

Print out the list and take it with you for your next visit!

  • State your role. Introduce yourself as the caregiver and let the health care provider know you’re there to help support his or her recommendations and be part of the health care team.
  • Come prepared. Before the appointment, help your loved one make a written list of any concerns he or she wants to discuss. Prioritize your needs—you may not have enough time to cover everything at one office visit. Agree on what each of you will talk about.
  • Take notes. Health care appointments go by quickly. Taking good notes will help you remember important instructions. Before you leave the office, review main points with the provider to make sure you both agree on what was discussed.
  • Ask questions. Your loved one may be overwhelmed or nervous during the appointment, so be ready to ask questions on her or his behalf. Depending on the reason for the office visit, you may want to find out: What might have caused this symptom? What do you hope to learn from the test(s) you’re ordering? What are the treatment options?
  • Don’t be shy. Speak up if you don’t understand what the professional is saying, or if you have concerns about the health of the person in your care. If you’re not comfortable doing this when your loved one is present, consider calling the health care provider before the visit.
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