Communication. Getting your point across. It’s almost as essential as water. We talk to so many people in our everyday dealings, and what we say goes a long way. It’s no different with a doctor. Many times, adults and seniors alike may be hesitant and lack confidence when speaking with their physician. According to the National Institute on Aging, talking about your health or that of a loved one means sharing information about how you feel physically, emotionally and mentally. Knowing how to describe symptoms and address other concerns will help you become a partner in your health care.
- First and foremost, it’s important to communicate symptoms, or evidence of a disease or disorder in the body. Symptoms can range anywhere from a fever to decreased sleeping.
- Give information about medicines.It is possible for medicines to interact causing unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects. Your doctor needs to know all of the medicines your loved one is taking, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements, so bring everything to your visit. Tell the doctor how often your loved one takes each. Be sure your doctor has your pharmacy’s phone number.
- Describe daily habits. For the best care, your doctor must understand your loved one’s life. The doctor may ask where your loved one lives, eating and sleeping habits, daily activities and if he or she smokes or drinks. Always be open and honest with the doctor.
- Voice other concerns. Your doctor may ask personal questions about your loved one. Let the doctor know any major changes or stresses, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one. You don’t have to go into detail. It’s also important for caregivers to ask doctors the right questions. It is key to good communication with your doctor.
- Be proactive. Ask questions when you don’t know the meaning of a word (like aneurysm or hypertension) or when prescription instructions are unclear. It is vital for caregivers to learn about medical tests. Sometimes doctors need to do blood tests, X-rays, etc. to learn more about a loved one’s medical condition. Before having a medical test, ask your doctor to explain why it’s important, what it will show and what it will cost.
Here are some additional ideas for questions to ask your doctor or your loved one’s doctor to gain further clarity:
Questions to ask about symptoms: What exactly are your symptoms? Are the symptoms constant? If not, when do you experience them? Does anything you do make the symptoms better? Or worse? Do the symptoms affect your daily activities? Which one? How?Open and honest communication is key..
Questions to ask about medical tests: Why is the test being done? What steps does the test involve? How should I get mom or dad ready? Are there any dangers or side effects? How will I find out the results? How long will it take to get the results? What will we know after the test? Ask the doctor to tell you the name of your loved one’s condition and why he or she thinks your loved one has it. Ask how it may affect them and how long it might last.
Questions to ask about your loved one’s diagnosis: What may have caused this condition? Will it be permanent? How is this condition treated or managed? What will be the long-term effects on my loved one’s life? How can I learn more about this condition?