Accompanying seniors on doctor visits is an important part of the caregiver role. And even if the senior you love is still self-sufficient, you may find it very beneficial to accompany them on appointments. By being there you can relieve them of the stress of navigating a large hospital/medical complex, help ensure that they are hearing all that is said, help them remember all of the details, etc. In general, you can help make the appointment less anxiety inducing.
The following are five quick tips to help you be a better companion at the doctor visit.
1. Discuss the Visit Beforehand: Before heading out to the doctor discuss the visit with your elderly loved one. What issues do they want to discuss with the doctor? Do they need to have anything out of the ordinary checked out? If the senior has dementia or other conditions that make it hard to communicate, talk to other caregivers before the appointment. Have they noticed anything that needs to be brought up with the doctor?
2. Write Down Questions: Before you head out to the visit, sit down and write up all those questions and concerns. Now you won’t have to rely on your memory!
3. Take Notes: During the visit take notes of what the doctor says. This is important for two reasons. First, you will have everything documented so that you don’t forget anything the doctor said, and your senior can then review the notes and see information that they might not have heard or have already forgotten. Second, this will allow any caregivers who were not present to review what was said.
4. Include Your Senior in the Conversation: While at the appointment make sure that you don’t talk about your elderly loved one as if they weren’t there (this includes dementia patients and those with hearing issues). If you need to speak to the doctor privately, do so in another room before or after the appointment. You can call ahead and/or discreetly talk to office staff to make your need for privacy known before the appointment.
5. Let the Doctor be the Doctor: In the age of the internet, perhaps one of the hardest tasks is to step aside and let the doctor do the diagnosing! Remember that their years of schooling and decades of practice have taught them many things that we lay people will never know. But be sure to voice your concerns and to point out information they may not know about the patient. You can be the best advocate for your senior. And if you don’t agree with a doctor, then by all means voice your concerns and/or get another opinion.