As a caregiver, you probably spend a lot of time in the doctor’s office with your loved one. Because of this, you want to be as efficient as possible during these visits so that you don’t have to make yet another appointment due to a problem being missed.
We all know that physicians are extremely busy these days and don’t have very long to spend with each patient. There are some easy things that you can to to make the most out of your office visits.
- Plan Ahead
- Make a list of what you’d like to cover and make the list in priority order. Don’t be surprised if not everything on your list is able to be covered. Physicians who have been interviewed state that they are able to cover the top 3 – everything else is icing on the cake.
- Bring a pen and a notebook with you so that you can jot down what the physician said. A helpful caregiving organizer can be found at IntentionalCaregiver.com.
- Bring a list of all current medications (these should be kept updated in your notebook (if not, then throw all the bottles into a bag and bring them with you).
- Bring results of any tests that have been performed lately. The doctor should have these but they may not always be available due to computer glitches, so it’s best to have them at hand.
- Check your notes when you get home.
- If you don’t understand something that the doctor said, ask for further clarification. They sometimes forget who they are talking to and lapse into medical jargon.
- If there is a lot that you would like to talk about, it’s a good idea to make a “consultation” appointment. That way the doctor will know to schedule extra time for you.
- Educate yourself on your loved-one’s medical conditions. You can find lots of information in books, pamphlets and on-line resources. When using the internet, be sure that you are using a credible source. You may want to check 2-3 sources to see that their information is similar.
- If your appointment is due to new symptoms, try to remember WHEN the symptoms started, WHAT was going on when they started, WHERE you were when they started. This will give the physician an idea of what kinds of questions to ask for further examination.
- Learn the routine of the physician’s office: for instance, do they usually run late? Are there always forms that need to be filled out prior to your appointment? Do they always want a urine sample or a weight check prior to entering the exam room (in other words, don’t have your loved one wear bulky, weighty clothing that is difficult to remove or urinate before they arrive)? Knowing these things will help the system to work WITH you, not AGAINST you.
- Recognize that not all questions have answers, especially the ones that begin with the word “WHY”.
- Try to separate your anger at the situation and your feelings of uselessness from the physician, his diagnosis and his prognosis. Chances are that he is feeling as useless and as frustrated as you are.
- Remember to write down your next appointment date.
- Remember to say “thank you”.
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