How to Talk to your Geriatric Physician
When you and your loved one make a visit to the doctor, it's likely that you'll have a very limited amount of time with the doctor herself. The best way to make sure you have a productive visit is to come prepared, and to make sure you understand everything she's telling you. Here's what you can do:
- Prepare a list of questions. This way you'll remember everything you need to know before you leave. If you ask a question and it raises another, don't hesitate to ask for more information.
- If your loved one is ill, prepare a list of symptoms. As symptoms come up, make sure you write them down. If you wait, you may forget some of them. An important point to remember is that because your loved one has Alzheimer's, he may not be able to clearly express what parts of his body hurt, or what's troubling him. Instead, you may notice a change in mood, increased irritability, or a negative attitude - these behaviors are all symptoms of ailments or infection for Alzheimer's-afflicted patients. Keep tabs on your loved one's moods and other symptoms.
- Don't be too modest. It may seem awkward at first to talk about your loved one's incontinence or a urinary tract infection, but don't let your modesty get in the way of the best healthcare available. Make sure you clearly explain what you want to know and don't beat around the bush - speaking directly will help the doctor better understand you.
- Bring a list of all medications and ailments. Make sure your doctor knows about all your loved one's ailments, including the Alzheimer's diagnosis. In addition, discuss all the medications he is taking, so that medication schedules can be changed or simplified safely.
- Keep on asking. If your doctor is using medical jargon, you might feel as if she's speaking Greek. Don't hesitate to ask her to explain things to you, or repeat what she's said. Even if you feel rushed because of her hectic schedule, keep on asking. You have a right to understand everything that's being said to you. You can even take notes on the list you brought.
If you follow all of these directions, you and your loved one should have a productive visit with his doctor. However, if you think you have more questions or forgot to ask something, either call the clinic and ask for the doctor herself to call you back, or make a second appointment. Verify and clarify your doctor's instructions - your loved one's care depends on it!