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Preparing for a medical appointment

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Preparing for a medical appointment can make all the difference

You accompany someone you are caring for to medical appointments. You regularly interact with healthcare professionals. How do you prepare for a medical appointment?

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Preparing for and scheduling a medical appointment

The person you are caring for has a medical appointment coming up as part of their follow-up care and you are planning to accompany them. Depending on their condition, you may even have to be their voice.

Their visits to the doctor, or more generally to any healthcare provider, are important for them. These visits are also important for you because they allow you to get the facts about the condition of the person you are caring for, and to express your concerns. It can also be an opportunity to talk about your own needs as a caregiver.

An appointment has been booked? Now it's time to prepare for the medical appointment so that you feel more confident.

If you have any questions about preparing for the medical appointment, the Caregiver Support counselors can help you find answers. The Caregiver Support Helpline is a confidential, professional and free service where you can get a sympathetic ear, information and referrals to resources and services.

Ten tips to help you before, during and after your medical appointment

  1. Before the appointment, you can use this Quick Reference guide and write down your questions so that you do not forget any important issues. You can also discuss this with the person you are caring for, as they may have questions to ask the medical team;
  2. Bring a list of current medications to the appointment;
  3. If there are forms to be signed by the doctor, it is easier to print them out and bring them to the appointment;
  4. Allow yourself a little extra travel time, so you don't stress out if something unexpected should occur;
  5. At the appointment, start by discussing the most important topics to ensure you have time to address them;
  6. Ask for any technical terms to be written down for you;
  7. Set aside time to express your emotions, fears and insecurities;
  8. If you feel uncomfortable discussing certain issues related to the situation of the person being cared for while they are with you, speak with the staff member after the meeting;
  9. Call upon your expertise. Being close to the person you are caring for makes you a privileged witness to their situation. You have information that is difficult for health professionals to access. Health professionals have their expertise and you have yours;
  10. You can take notes so that you can come back to what was said later on.

You can’t accompany them

If you are unable to accompany the person you are caring for to their appointment, perhaps someone you know could accompany them. You can share your questions and concerns with this person so that they can address them with the medical team.

This person can take notes. It could be very useful to recount the important elements of the appointment and remind the person in your care of what was said and the doctor's recommendations if they are too anxious or ill to remember them.

Questions and possible solutions

When I meet the doctor with the person I am caring for, I lose track of things because there are so many things to talk about. What can we do?

If possible, work together with the person you are caring for to prepare for the doctor's appointment and discuss the issues that need to be addressed. Write down a list of questions and list them in order of importance.

Appointments are becoming more frequent. I'd like to keep track of all the information I'm given. Is there a tool you can suggest to help us do this?

Between appointments, you can keep a logbook to record your observations on the changes in the condition of the person you are caring for. You can note changes in behaviours, symptoms or moods, and keep track of blood sugar, blood pressure and medications. Don't forget to include pages for your own feelings and needs as a caregiver that you would like to discuss with the doctor.

The doctor brings up the topic of hospitalization. I feel overwhelmed...

L'Appui pour les proches aidants offers you practical advice on how to accompany someone who is hospitalized and how to accompany someone in palliative care. You may also want to contact a social worker.

I need to prepare my call to my brother who has Alzheimer's disease. Do you have any suggestions?

We suggest you watch this video by Philippe Voyer [in French], which provides helpful information.

You talk about medical appointments, but I have a lot of trouble getting an appointment for the person I am caring for! What are some of the solutions?

A page from the Government of Quebec explains how, depending on your situation, you can get a consultation with a medical professional or find a service adapted to your needs.

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