Making the Most of a Visit With My Parent's Doctor

National Institute on Aging

If you go with your parent to see the doctor, here are a few tips that will help you be an ally and advocate:

  • Bring a prioritized list of questions and take notes on what the doctor recommends. Both can be helpful later, either to give information to the primarycaregiver, or to remind your parent what the doctor said.
  • Before the appointment, ask your parent, the primary caregiver, and your siblings if they have any questions or concerns they would like you to bring up.
  • Bring a list of ALL medications your parent is taking, both prescription and over-the-counter, and include dosage and schedule (if your parent sees several different doctors one may not necessarily know what another has prescribed).
  • When the doctor asks a question, do not answer for your parent unless you have been asked to do so. Always talk to the doctor and to your parent.
  • Respect your parent’s privacy and leave the room when necessary.
  • Ask the doctor if she or he can recommend community resources that might be helpful.
  • Larger medical practices and hospitals may have a social worker on staff. Ask to speak with the social worker. She or he may have valuable information about community resources.

NIA has a free booklet called Talking with Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People that provides helpful information about doctor/patient communication. It includes hints on getting ready for a doctor’s appointment, making health care decisions, and talking about sensitive subjects. The Resources section of this booklet has information on getting a copy of this guide.

©2007 National Institute of Aging

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