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When it's Time to go to the Doctor…Here's What to Ask

Caregiver helping senior woman out of car
Doctor visits can be overwhelming for older adults, particularly if they have hearing problems or dementia. Seniors often appreciate someone attending an appointment with them.

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February 3, 2011

Doctor visits can be overwhelming for older adults, particularly if they have hearing problems or dementia. Seniors often appreciate someone attending an appointment with them. If a family caregiver can't attend an appointment with an older loved one, encourage or help a senior find someone—a trusted neighbor or friend—to go with him or her to provide any needed assistance.

Or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care® office. A Home Instead CAREGiverSM, who is screened, trained, bonded and insured, can transport and accompany older adults to doctor visits and be there to assist that senior and provide follow-up information to a family member. Here's what to ask and information you should provide:

  • Always tell the doctor you're seeing what prescription drug medications, supplements and vitamins you are currently taking; write those down for your appointment. Also make a list of any symptoms or health complaints you have.
  • Describe your symptoms in order and, each time, include past experiences with the same problem.
  • Ask the doctor what he or she thinks is causing these problems. Take notes on what the doctor says or ask the person who's accompanying you to do so. Or take a digital voice recorder in with you to record the doctor's answers and instructions. The doctor will likely speak very clearly and slowly, and give you a lot more information once he or she knows they are being recorded. Just be sure to tell the doctor you are recording and put the recorder in plain view.
  • If new tests are ordered or medications prescribed, ask the doctor why he or she is recommending that and why you need it. Find out if there are alternatives.
  • Ask the doctor if any of the medications that he or she prescribes will interact in a negative way with medications that you're taking as prescribed by other doctors.
  • Confirm the proper dosage and method of taking the new medication.
  • Find out if there are potential side effects or complications from a medication or procedure.
  • Discuss with the doctor how you will get any test results.
  • Find out if the doctor wants to see you again, or if you should report back to him or her.
  • Discuss what, if anything, you should be doing at home to improve your condition including diet and exercise. Find out if any of your activities should be restricted.
  • Finally, if you're confused about anything, make sure you ask your doctor to explain it again.

Your local Home Instead Senior Care office also can provide additional information about the support that CAREGivers can provide for many other services that assist older adults.

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