Talking To The Doctor About Your Parent’s Healthhealthy person, talking to the doctor

As a caregiver for an elderly parent, you may find yourself attending doctor appointments with your older parent.  Talking to the doctor can be daunting and frustrating, especially considering that studies show we typically only have 12-18 seconds to speak before the doctor interrupts.

After my father’s stroke, I became his caregiver and advocate.  I made difficult medical decisions for him when he wasn’t able to make them himself.  In the hospital, and after he was home I found myself basically translating “doctor speak” into “dad speak” and “dad speak” into words the doctors could understand.  My father was raised in the country and had a way of telling stories and making analogies when making his point.  It just took him longer to get to that point than most doctors patience could last.   My familiarity with his habits and ways of speaking helped to make the appointments more effective.

Some things I learned about talking to the doctor:

Come prepared:

Make sure you bring a list of current medications and dosages.  Note any side effects that may be happening.  Note any new symptoms or problems since the last appointment.


Don’t be afraid to ask questions:

This is super important when talking to the doctor.  Speak up, ask questions.  Ask the doctor to explain terms that you don’t understand and reasoning for tests and procedures recommended.


Repeat as necessary:

If you don’t think the doctor heard or understood your questions, repeat, repeat.  Sometimes you may need to paraphrase your loved one’s response for the doctor and vice versa.


Bring your patience:

Be prepared for long waits at the office.  Bring something to entertain yourself and your loved one.  Bring a nutritious snack.  Don’t get upset if it seems like the doctor isn’t listening.  Take a deep breath if needed and calmly repeat your question or statement.


Take notes:

Bring paper and pen (or for the tech-savvy bring your phone or tablet).  By whatever means necessary, take notes of the doctor’s instructions and explanations of terms.

woman talking to the doctor

Use these ways of making the best of doctor’s appointments and be the very best advocate for your loved one that you can be.