As a caregiver, one of your duties is probably taking your loved one to doctor’s appointments. When you’re caring for an older adult or someone with special medical needs, these appointments may be frequent.
One of the best ways to ensure you have everything you need when you’re shuttling your family member to visits to a primary care physician or specialist is to make a doctor’s visit checklist. By making sure that you have all the items on this list, you can go into the doctor’s office well prepared.
Why Do I Need a Doctor’s Visit Checklist?
Going into a doctor’s appointment unprepared means that you won’t be getting the greatest possible benefit from her expertise. It’s important to ask the doctor about things you’re curious about and to take an active role in the medical care of your loved one. Patients get more effective treatment, show more improvement, and are happier with their care when they or a caregiver is actively involved, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Having a list also benefits you. You have a lot on your mind, and on your calendar, as a caregiver. You probably also have concerns about your loved one’s health. This list will help you remember all of your concerns, even when you’ve been rushing and are feeling stressed and ragged. Instead of having to focus on committing all the symptoms and medications to memory, you can dedicate time toward finding that ever-elusive work/life balance.
Making a Doctor’s Visit Checklist
The easiest way to check your items off the list is to keep the materials that pertain to each one of those checklist items in a file folder as they’re updated. Then you only have to remember the folder when it’s time to go to the appointment. Here are some things your doctor’s visit folder should include:
- Your loved one’s medication list. Include the name of the medication, dosage, prescribing doctor, appearance of the pill, and any reactions. Don’t forget to include supplements and over-the-counter drugs.
- A health history file. This is especially important if your loved one has more than one doctor or sees a number of specialists. Include current conditions, past illnesses, surgeries, and test results.
- A list of current symptoms or health concerns. Keeping a journal of symptoms your loved one develops can help you report them to the doctor. It’s important to note when you or your loved one first noticed them and their severity. This template from the Illinois Department of Public Health can help you decide what you need to mention.
- Your list of questions. Even if it’s something you think you could look up on the computer at home, ask. The doctor may have information specific to your loved one’s health situation that you can’t get anywhere else.
- A notebook and pen. Don’t forget that you’ll want to record his answers and suggestions!
A doctor’s visit checklist helps you remember the questions you need to ask and the symptoms you want to mention. Your loved one’s doctor is busy, and getting an appointment can be difficult. And even if it’s not, who has the time to backtrack just because you forgot to ask about something? Being prepared for the visit is the best way to ensure your loved one gets the best treatment possible and that all of your concerns are addressed.