Working with doctors and other healthcare professionals can be an important part of being a caregiver. Some things caregivers may find especially helpful to discuss are: what to expect in the future, sources of information and support, community services, and ways they can maintain their own well-being.
If you go with the person you care for to see his or her doctor, here are a few tips that will help you be an ally and an advocate:
- Bring a list of questions, starting with what is most important to you and the person, and take notes on what the doctor recommends. Ask the person in advance how you can be most helpful during the visit. Both the questions and the notes you write down can be helpful later, either to give information to another caregiver or family member, or to remind the patient what the doctor said.
- Before the appointment, ask the person and the other caregivers if they have any questions or concerns they would like you to bring up.
- Bring a list of ALL medicines and dietary supplements the person is taking, both prescription and over-the-counter, and include the dosage and schedule. If he or she sees several different doctors, one may not necessarily know what another has prescribed.
- When the doctor asks a question, let the person answer unless you have been asked to do so.
- It’s easy to get into a two-way conversation between the doctor and yourself—try not to do this. Always include both the person you care for and the doctor when you talk.
- Respect the person’s privacy, and leave the room when necessary.
- If you live out of town, talk to the doctor about how you can keep up to date on the person’s health since you live out of town.
- Ask the doctor to recommend helpful community resources.
- Larger medical practices, hospitals, and nursing homes may have a social worker on staff. The social worker may have valuable suggestions about community resources and other information.
Watch for Signs of Depression and Share with Healthcare Professionals
If you are worried that the person might be depressed, you might want to discuss this with the doctor before the appointment. Depression is not a normal part of aging. Emotions like sadness, grief, and temporary “blue” moods are normal, but continuing depression that interferes with daily living is not okay.
Even some health professionals seem to think depression is a normal response to the illnesses and other problems that can happen as we grow older. Make sure the doctor is taking action in response to your concerns.
National Institute on Aging