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Caring for the Caregiver

  • Posted: 06/29/2007

Going With Your Loved One to Medical Visits

Before you go

Your loved one may ask you to come to doctor visits. This may be a key role for you. Here are some tips for going to the doctor:

  • Know how to get there. Give yourself enough time.
  • Write down questions you need to ask. Also write down things you want to tell the doctor.
  • Keep a folder of your loved one's health information. Bring this folder to each visit.
  • Bring all the medicine bottles with you, or keep a list of the names and doses. Bring this list to each visit.

Talking with the health care provider

Sometimes, people have trouble with medical visits. They don't understand what the doctor says. Or they forget things. Here are some tips for talking with the health care provider:
  • If you don't understand an answer, ask the question in a different way.
  • If you need to know more, ask.
  • Let your doctor or nurse know what your worries are.
  • Before you leave the visit, make sure you know what the next steps are for your loved one's care.
  • Take notes. Or ask if you can record the visit.
  • Let the doctor know if your loved one has had changes or new symptoms.

Questions to ask the doctor or health care team

  • What health records should we bring?
  • How can we prepare for treatment?
  • How long will the treatment take?
  • Can he or she go to and from treatment alone?
  • How can I help my loved one feel better during treatment?
  • Can I be there during treatment?
  • What are the side effects of the treatment?
  • After treatment, what do we need to watch for? When should we call you?
  • How do we file for insurance? Who can help us with insurance?

Asking about pain

Many caregivers say that they are afraid to ask about pain. They worry that it means the cancer is getting worse. Or some think that pain is normal, and their loved one just has to accept it. This is not true. People who have their pain managed can focus on healing. They can enjoy life more.

The doctor should continue to ask about pain and other side effects. But it's up to you and your loved one to be sure that the doctor knows about any pain your loved one feels. Pain can be managed during treatment. The key is to talk about pain and other symptoms at each visit. Your loved one does not have to suffer.

Don't be afraid to ask for stronger pain medicine. Sometimes larger doses help. These drugs rarely cause people with cancer to get addicted. Instead, they can help your loved one feel better. He or she will be able to focus on day-to-day things instead of being in pain.