As a caregiver, you will likely need to accompany your loved one to see his or her doctor from time to time. These appointments can be a wonderful opportunity to ask questions, discuss expectations, find resources, get support or training, and more. You may also find that you need to take on the role of advocate for your loved one in these appointments. In this article, we will offer 6 things for caregivers to bring to doctor's appointments to make sure you get the most out of each visit.
6 Things to Bring to a Doctor Appointment
If you’re planning your next visit to the doctor with your loved one, here is a quick checklist of things to bring:
1) A list of questions
The first thing on your list to bring to a scheduled doctor's appointment is a list of all of your questions since the last appointment. To gather these, we have a few tips.
Keep a dedicated notepad and pen accessible all the time. Questions can pop up at the most unexpected times, so having a centralized location to start writing them down when they come up will help you to be sure that you never forget one. You can use a physical notepad and pen, or create a list on your phone. The important thing is that it is accessible and somewhere that you’ll remember to look.
Check in with your loved one/other caregivers before the appointment. Be sure to ask the loved one in your care if they have any questions they want to make sure to ask while at the doctor’s office. They may have symptoms they’d like to ask about, questions about their prognosis, simple questions about their medications, or something else entirely. Regardless, it’s important to get their feedback (and the feedback of any other caregivers helping out) too.
Ask about local resources. Your professional care team will likely have relevant recommendations for local resources and programs if you ask them.
While at the doctor’s appointment, try to avoid any conversations between just you and the doctor and/or nurse. When asking questions, allow your loved one to guide, or at least be included in the conversation as much as possible.
2) A list of medications (prescription, over-the-counter, and supplements)
The next thing you’ll want to be sure you have is a list of all medications that your loved one is currently taking. This list should include all prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements (including dosage amounts and frequency of use). You can also include relevant dietary foods of concern (like grapefruit or grapefruit juice, alcohol, or caffeine, for example).
Don’t forget to bring a notebook and pen so that you can write down the answers to your and your loved one’s questions. These notes will be helpful to reflect on once the details of the conversation start to fade from memory.
4) Medical insurance and identification information
For the appointment, be sure to bring your loved one’s current (unexpired) medical insurance card and a valid form of ID (such as a passport or driver’s license).
5) A calendar or planner
Whether you use a digital or physical planner, make sure you have a way to write down/track any follow-up appointments. Your planner is also helpful to have with you so you can check for scheduling conflicts (for you or your loved one) before the appointment is officially on the books.
6) Family medical history/paperwork
Finally, it’s important to bring along any relevant medical history for your loved one, their family history, and any paperwork from prior appointments/other doctors. This is especially important if it’s their first appointment with this doctor, if they have multiple doctors, or if there was a recent hospital stay that may not have been recorded with their General Practitioner or Primary Doctor.
You can request an extract of medical history from their prior doctor’s office that will help you put all of that paperwork together. Some insurance networks (like Kaiser and Sutter which combine insurance and the medical system) will be retrievable through the insurer.
If you head into a doctor’s appointment well prepared, you will find it an incredibly valuable time to get answers to your and your loved one’s questions, instructions or education for tasks you were unsure about how to handle, and find reassurance.
If you are a caregiver for your loved one, we recommend you check out our article about getting paid to be a caregiver. Becoming a caregiver is difficult and expensive–out-of-pocket annual costs average in the thousands for a family caregiver. The state of California offers several paths to receiving at least partial compensation or subsidized assistance, so click here to learn more about how to get paid to be a caregiver.
For further reading and resources, we invite you to check out our library of information for family caregivers by clicking here. You are also welcome to call us at 800-543-8312 to find out more about how we can support you in your caregiving journey.