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Caregiver Training Blog

Doctor and Patient Communication: How to Talk to Your Doctor

Talking to your doctorIt’s not uncommon to have anxiety over medical appointments. We want doctors to understand our concerns and help us, especially if we aren’t feeling well. Fortunately, there are things you can do to learn how to talk to your doctor effectively.

Dr. David Smith of Geriatric Consultants of South Texas shared his perspective on doctor patient communication in a recent webcast on mmLearn.org.  His tips for making the most out of doctor appointments includes: 

  • Bring a list of all the medicines you take, both prescription and over-the-counter, and know the reason you take them.
  • Know your medical history, including your family history.
  • When describing symptoms, consider whether they have changed over time, whether they are constant or variable and if anything either worsens them or improves them.
  • Don’t hide your concerns out of embarrassment. Doctors are used to hearing about issues such as falls, memory loss or incontinence. Your honesty will assist your doctor in helping you.

According to Dr. Smith, good doctor and patient communication work both ways. Doctors should be able to explain things in terms the patient understands and patients need to be involved in their own healthcare so they can clearly describe their concerns. According to Dr. Smith, as much as 75% of a doctor’s diagnosis process rests on information the patient shares so it's easy to see how important it is to have good doctor patient communications.

If you're looking for a comprehensive resource for family caregivers, check out our online Family Caregiver Guide.

The mission of mmLearn.org is to provide caregivers with online training and education that improve the quality of care received by older adults.family caregiver guide download