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Caregivers Corner: How to partner with your doctor when caregiving for a loved one

Nicole M. Clagett Image
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
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If you are caregiving for someone, here are some tips to help you better communicate with doctors or other medical professionals.

Caregivers often find communicating with doctors overwhelming and intimidating. Many people feel anxious when meeting with a doctor and often forget all the things they wanted to share and ask.

If you are caregiving for someone, here are some tips to help you better communicate with doctors or other medical professionals:

  • If you don't understand, don't say you do: Ask the professional to rephrase their response, and it's perfectly acceptable to ask them to repeat and explain their response. They want you to understand what is happening with your loved one and it is very important that you understand specific instructions.
  • Be honest, don't sugar coat: It can be scary to share everything that is going on with your loved one. If you hide symptoms or behaviors, important clues are not available to give your loved one the best treatment possible.
  • Write down your questions before your appointment: Take your list into the appointment and when the healthcare professional asks, "do you have any questions?" get out your list. Be very specific in the things that you are saying to the medical professional. For example, saying "they seem more confused" is not as clear as sharing a specific scenario.
  • Be a confident advocate: It can feel intimidating to advocate for your loved one if you feel their needs are not being addressed. Advocating for your loved one does not equate to confrontation.
  • Take notes: Just as you should take a list of questions into the appointment, it is also important that you take notes during the appointment. When feeling overwhelmed by your loved one's circumstances, it is often difficult to remember everything that was said at the appointment. Jotting down notes when the healthcare professional is speaking will help you recall and analyze the entire appointment later.

For more tips on how to have a conversation with a physician, watch the interview with a doctor from Duke Health:

If you are caregiving for a loved one and would like to get connected with others in our community who are walking the same path, join ABC11's Caregivers Corner moderated by Nicole Clagett. The group has 2000+ people supporting one another and sharing wonderful information and resources daily. More helpful tips about this topic can be found on ABC11's Caregivers Corner section.