Resource Guide for Family Caregivers
Communicating with the doctor

Before a visit to the doctor

  • Prepare a list of questions.  Think about what you want to say or ask and then prepare an ask the doctor list. Say it simply. Rehearse if you need to.
  • Ask for a separate appointment to describe the situation, or ask that the appointment include extra time to allow the doctor to ask and answer questions.

At the time of a doctor visit

  • Take a notebook and include your list of questions and a list of the care receiver’s medications.
  • Communicate clearly. Your tone of voice, eye contact and posture should all indicate that you are sincere, honest and determined about your questions and/or comments. Consult your notes in order to make sure you have covered all the points you wanted to raise.
  • Clarify any of the doctor’s instructions. If you are not sure that you understand, or that you are being understood, say it again until you get a satisfactory response.
  • Use phrases that allow you to put the message in your own words. Some examples are: You mean that… Are you saying that… In other words… or Does that mean…

The best way to get what you or the care recipient need is to ask for it directly.

If you are not satisfied

  • Look for ways to resolve problems. Don’t use a cannon where a pea shooter will do.
  • List your concerns and assume your right to information.
  • If possible, get a second opinion and/ or choose another doctor. (In some areas, both may be difficult to do because of lack of physicians.)