Tips For Communicating With Doctors Effectively

As a caregiver, you play a very important role in your loved one’s medical care. You must give medications, make medical decisions and monitor your loved one’s health. You may also have to attend medical appointments and communicate with multiple myeloma doctors.

This article outlines some tips for communicating with doctors effectively so you can make the most of your loved one’s appointments.

Before You Visit the Docto

People diagnosed with cancer often feel they’ve lost control over their lives. You can help your loved one regain some of that control by encouraging questions and decision-making. You may want to ask how much time your loved one has left, but he may not be ready to face that issue. Conversely, he may want to protect you from hearing any bad news.

Talk about such issues before you visit the doctor. Determine who will do most of the talking, what you’d both like to ask the doctor and whether both of you will be present to hear the answers. If your loved one chooses, he can give the doctor verbal or written permission to speak to you, as the caregiver, alone.

Be Prepared When Communicating with Doctors

Communicating with doctors is much easier if you’re prepared. Before you visit the doctor:

  • Make a list of your loved one’s medications and the dosage of each (or take the pill bottles with you).
  • Make a note of anything you want to tell the doctor, such as changes in appetite, sleep patterns or pain.
  • Take a folder of your loved one’s health information with you to the appointment.
  • Write down a list of any questions you’d like to ask the doctor.

Communicating with Doctors in Person

Communicating with doctors can be stressful at times. Appointments with multiple myeloma doctors may be rushed, and you may feel you should avoid pestering the doctor with all your questions. Don’t feel this way. You must have a clear understanding of what your loved one needs from you as a caregiver. Don’t hesitate to ask the doctor any questions you may have or to ask him to repeat anything he said.

Consider taking notes during your conversation so that you can review them later or discuss certain issues with other multiple myeloma doctors. You may even ask to record your conversation.

Before you go, ask the doctor if he’s the one you should contact in certain situations, such as a change in your loved one’s health or a medical emergency. You may also ask him what he considers a medical emergency. Knowing whom to contact, as well as when, can ease much of the anxiety of care giving.

Resources

American Cancer Society. (2009). Caring for the patient with cancer at home: A guide for patients and families. Retrieved October 18, 2010, from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002818-pdf.pdf

International Myeloma Foundation. (2002). Now you are a caregiver. Retrieved October 18, 2010, from http://myeloma.org/IndexPage.action?tabId=1&menuId=0&indexPageId=39 &parentLinkId=507&categoryId=0&gParentType=nugget&gParentId=12& parentIndexPageId=5&parentCategoryId=29

Myeloma Canada. (2010). Caregiver concerns. Retrieved October 18, 2010, from http://www.myelomacanada.ca/en/caregiver_concerns.htm

National Cancer Institute. (2007). Caring for the caregiver. Retrieved October 18, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/caring-for-the-caregiver