Talking to Doctors
As a caregiver, managing your loved one’s medical appointments can be stressful and sometimes intimidating. Medical professionals often seem like they have their own language and it can be tough to navigate insurance and health systems especially when your loved one is hospitalized.
Here are some tips for working with your loved one’s doctors and other medical professionals:
Prepare appropriate legal documents
Make sure you have legal authority to act on your loved one’s behalf. This comes in the form of a power of attorney which a lawyer will help you set up.
Keep a list
Keep a list of your loved one’s medications including dosage, and any instructions (e.g. take with food). Include any health supplements and over-the-counter medications which are taken regularly.
Track vital signs
If your loved one is managing a medical condition which requires them to check their vital signs like heart rate or blood sugar, make sure there is a place to jot them down with date and time of day.
Prepare for appointments
If possible, fill out forms ahead of time if they are available by download or through e-mail. Bring your loved one’s medication list and vital sign log (if done). Jot down any observations you’ve had about your loved one’s condition or behavior, along with any questions you would like to ask so you don’t forget to ask them.
Ask if a telemedicine visit is possible
If your loved one does not have to make the trip, don’t make them. Most medical practices now offer telemedicine visits – ask yours about this option.
Explain your role
Let your loved one’s medical team know your role in supporting their care. Ask what you should look out for and what should be escalated if you notice any changes in condition which concern you, or that you may not know to look out for. Make sure you clearly understand how to report this to practice or hospital staff when this happens.
Your loved one’s medical team will recognize you are an important factor in keeping your loved one out of the hospital and adherent to their treatment plan. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to ask what terms mean and to learn more about how your loved one’s condition might progress. Don’t let yourself feel rushed. You have the right to be heard.
Ask how things can get simpler
Making appointments, exchanging information, managing medications … your loved one’s medical team may have valuable suggestions about how to simplify day-to-day activities and communications.
There may be online portals or other options to exchange information. Telemedicine visits may also be available along with things, such as mail order or pharmacy delivery programs. Lastly, if you’re helping your loved one manage a chronic disease, organizations and support groups may be available to help you cope and deliver care.
Use this link to learn how to talk to your elderly parent’s doctor as a child/caregiver.
Use this link to learn how to choose a doctor you can talk to, how to prepare for talking to your doctor, and what questions you can ask your doctor.