Sunday, June 10, 2012

How To Prepare For A Doctor's Visit

Communicating with Your Loved One's Healthcare Team
You can make a difference in your loved one’s health. It just takes a little effort and time.

Small image of a life saver
Small image of a life saver
Small image of a life saver
Small image of a life saver
Small image of a life saver
Small image of a life saver

How Can You Prepare Before Each Medical Visit?
To prepare before each medical visit:
  • Make a list of questions. Put the most important questions first.
  • Describe the problem or symptom on paper. Note when each symptom occurs, how long it lasts, and what makes it better or worse.
  • Write down changes in your loved one’s diet, mood and behavior.
  • Bring stroke information you learned from friends, the media or on My HealtheVet and the Internet.
  • Bring a list of all your loved one’s medicines. Include vitamins and over-the-counter medicines. Bring results of tests and reports of visits to non-VA medical offices.

How Do You Involve Yourself During Each Medical Visit?
Communicating with your healthcare team isn’t always easy. Show interest in your loved one’s health. You’ll be surprised with the results.
  • If possible, let your loved one take the lead.
  • Update the provider on your loved one’s health changes. Tell the provider if treatments or medicines are not working.
  • Take notes.
  • Bring up any point the healthcare provider did not cover.
Use Your Time with Your Healthcare Team Wisely
Providers only have a short time to talk. Remember to do the following:
  • Talk about the most important concerns first.
  • Be brief and stick to the point.

What Questions Should You Ask?
Provider answering a patient's questions
Ask the provider to explain anything you don’t understand.
  • Ask the provider about the survivor’s diagnoses and what to expect.
  • Find out different choices for treatments.
  • Find out why tests are being done.
  • Ask why your loved one is taking each medicine.
  • Talk about local stroke support groups and other resources in your area.
Make Sure You Understand the Provider
  • Repeat instructions or treatment information. Ask if you understood correctly.
  • Call the provider’s office later if you are unclear.
  • Ask pharmacists questions about medicines.
Contact your healthcare team with new problems and adverse effects from medicines. Your healthcare team wants to know right away about new symptoms.

How Can My HealtheVet Help You?
Ask a VA staff person to show you how to use My HealtheVet. With just a few clicks on My HealtheVet ( you can keep track of personal health information. For example, you can record blood pressure readings and daily weights. You can find handy tools to record medicines and lab test results. Print and bring this information to visits with the healthcare team.

  • Make a list of questions to ask the healthcare team.
  • Use your time wisely on each medical visit. Stick to the point.
  • Be sure you understand what the provider tells you.

More Resources
The following resources are related to this fact sheet only. View a full list of the resources from all RESCUE fact sheets.
Logo for My HealtheVet
My HealtheVet
My HealtheVet (MHV) provides trusted information on stroke and other health conditions. It also provides resources for stroke caregivers and tools to track your loved one’s health.
Visit the My HealtheVet Caregiver Assistance Center for more information on caregiving.
Photo collage of images representing computers and the Internet
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Phone:  1-800-222-4225 
The National Institute on Aging has guides on obtaining good healthcare and information. Information also available in Spanish.

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