As we age, medical appointments – be it with doctors, nurses, occupational therapists or physiotherapists – become commonplace. You may be someone who doesn’t mind these visits or you may be someone that associates medical appointments with stress and anxiety. When you are caring for a loved one that has a diagnosis of a long-term illness, such as dementia, Parkinson’s Disease or cancer, you may find that there is more added pressure on you to hold everything together. In recent years, I have attended many appointments as a support, advocate and sometimes friend and I have put together a list of my 7 tips for medical appointments.
Clear your schedule
The objective is to be in and out as quickly as possible, but sometimes this doesn’t happen. Ideally, you will book the first appointment of the day meaning that there is no one in front of you causing a delay. This isn’t always possible though, so if you have a mid-morning or afternoon appointment, clear your schedule. You may be lucky and be seen quickly, but if you’re not, don’t stress out, it means that your doctor is more than happy to give whatever time is needed to their patients.
Make A List
I absolutely guarantee that if you don’t make a list, you will forget half the questions that you want to ask. List making is particularly important if you are going for a big appointment i.e – one where a diagnosis will be given after a series of testing has been done.
Bring a Friend
I always advocate for having a close friend or family member at all appointment, especially the big ones. It is hard to take in all the information that is given to us and we may need a second (or third) set of ears, so make sure you bring someone that you can trust and that will be a good support and advocate for you.
Organisation is Key
Keep a record of EVERYTHING. Of every doctor’s appointment, the medication you were prescribed, blood tests that you had done, symptoms that you have. This is of particular importance when on multiple medications and seeing multiple doctors. Keep everything in one folder or book, or if you are super technological, on your phone, and remember to bring it to each appointment. Don’t forget to update it afterwards!
All At Once
If you need to see more than one specialist, try and make the appointments for the same day. Whilst a day of doctors appointments can be tiring, especially if you need to travel, having them all done in one visit may allow you to go a month or more without traipsing to the hospital.
Get A Copy
Get a copy of all reports and referrals to keep in your trusty folder. If you collect them as you attend each relevant appointment, then it will save time requesting them at a later date.
If You Don’t Understand, Ask Again
Doctors, and in fact, all medical professionals are busy people. They have a large caseload and see vast amounts of people a day. However, this doesn’t excuse you not getting the time or attention that you need or require at each appointment. This is a service that you are paying for. If there is something that you don’t understand, tell your doctor that and ask them to repeat it again, in non-medical terms. Don’t leave the office with no idea what just happened. That isn’t going to be beneficial to you and may result in you not effectively completing treatment.