Tuesday, August 22, 2017

6 Things Family Caregivers Should Remember to Bring to Doctor’s Appointments

For family caregivers, doctor’s appointments are one of the most important and time-consuming tasks. Whether it’s helping an aging parent with a ride to the doctor or taking a medically complex relative for their check-up with the specialist, the preparation, travel, and appointment time can all add up.

Don’t forget to bring these 6 things to your loved one’s next doctor’s appointment to make sure your time and effort is counting for something:

Bring a Medicine List
The doctor will always check in with each visit to see what medicines your loved one is still taking, which have changed, and what new ones they have started taking. Especially important for patients who see multiple doctors, keeping one central list of all medications (both prescriptions and over the counter) equips all your loved one’s doctors with the information they need to make sure nothing is over-prescribed, interacts with other medicines, or can cause complications.

Bring Your Questions
It is so easy for patients and their caregivers to feel overwhelmed with information, flustered, or simply forgetful of concerns you wanted to bring up with the doctor. Bottom line, write them down and bring them in. Not only does referencing a paper (or your phone) with your questions show the doctor you mean business, but it also holds the doctor accountable in a way to the time you are looking to spend discussing your loved one’s condition. Voice concerns over non-visible changes in mental state, attitude, and physical things like skin breakdown or difficulty swallowing.

Bring Something to Drink (and Eat)
Anyone who has ever been to the doctor knows that appointments can be right on time, or you can end up waiting for 45 minutes in the waiting room before being taken to a patient room to wait another 30 minutes to see the doctor. You never want your loved one to get dehydrated, so make sure to bring water and small snacks to keep energy levels up and everyone feeling at their best for the visit with the doctor.

Bring Hand Sanitizer
Chances are your doctor’s office will have hand sanitizer or antibacterial soap handy, but just in case, carry a small bottle with you to sanitize you and your loved one’s hands after an appointment. Oftentimes, people who see the doctor aren’t necessarily sick with contagious viruses, but it is always better to be safe (especially when visiting the family doctor or general practitioner during cold and flu season).

Bring Your Calendar
When leaving an appointment, unless a specific procedure or follow-up is scheduled, the doctor’s office will try and schedule your next ‘regular visit.’ Make sure to bring your calendar (or have your digital calendar handy on your smartphone) so you can find a good date and time for your next appointment. Even though most offices write it down on a little card for you, chances of that getting lost and you forgetting to put it in your calendar when you get home are high.

Bring Your Appreciation

Do you just love the doctor whom you take your loved one to see? If they have gone the extra mile and really supported you as a caregiver and your family member for whom you care, make sure and let them know how much they mean. A small handwritten note, homemade treats, or a gift certificate to a local restaurant or movie theatre are all super sweet but not ostentatious tokens of gratitude - especially givable around the holidays.

Saving time and getting more answers in regards to your loved one’s condition, treatment, and care helps ease up on the stress many caregivers feel, and so can helpful tools and devices like a hospital overbed table (see more here). When it comes to caregiving, preparation can go a long way, and this is never more evident than at doctor’s appointments. Don’t forget to ‘bring’ all the things you need to make your next appointment an even greater success.

This is a guest blog entry.

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