Caregivers: Five Things You Should Know Before You Visit the Doctor.

Have I got the latest list of meds?  Did I remember Chris’ needle and insulin, his noon meds for the journey home?  Has he taken his morning shot, his morning pills?  Do I have the purse with the medicare cards, ID and any other necessary forms or documents?  Did I get gas recently or do I need to stop at a gas station?

It was often a harried rush just to get to the car, let alone the doctor’s office.  That’s why I felt it was so important to plan ahead the night or even days before.

In his book, What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom for the End of Life, Dr. David Kuhl gives some thought-provoking suggestions for visiting the doctor’s office.  What I’m presenting here is a mere snippet of this information:

  1. Before the appointment, list your concerns in writing.  Then prioritize them. Its always a good idea to put a notebook and pen in your bag for note-taking at the doctor’s office. At the beginning of your appointment explain to the doctor how many concerns you have and then inquire regarding the time constraints of the appointment. Deal with what you can in the time provided, keeping to your pre-assigned priorities.

  2. Be specific about symptoms and issues (You should have notes to refer to regarding these).

  3. Regarding tests: be sure you ask and understand what the tests are for, what they will involve.  (Make sure the person in care has a chance to ask questions, to get answers, too!)

  4. When given a diagnosis, ask questions until you are sure both you and the cognizant patient understand.

  5. If given a new prescription, find out what the proposed effect is.  How long will they take it? How will it affect them?  How will it react with their other medications?

To sum up, its good to always clarify what the doctor is saying.  Be sure you truly understand the processes you’re about to embark on.  Take notes. And perhaps most important of all, make sure the patient is comfortable with his/her own level of understanding of what’s being said.



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