Do you help take your parents to their doctor’s appointments? If you’re a woman over 50 in the United States, chances are high that you do.

While the average age of a family caregiver is around 49, over a third of all family caregivers are actually over 65. In addition to helping with daily tasks like shopping, giving medicine and preparing food, family caregivers often tend to transportation to doctor’s appointments as well.

Being the Person Behind the Wheel

Transporting your loved one to their appointments certainly helps them with a ride (especially if they can no longer drive). More importantly though, it also allows you, as their caregiver, to openly communicate with their doctor.

It also helps you get accurate and up-to-date information about your loved one’s health, and schedule out future appointments that work for you. Moreover, it allows you to ensure that refills for prescriptions are taken care of right there!

A quick trip to the doctor’s office isn’t always the simplest venture though. How many times have you gotten Mom to her appointment only to realize you left her sweater or glasses at home? Or that you forgot your list of questions for the doctor on your nightstand?

The Caregiver’s Checklist for Visiting the Doctor

Don’t get caught off-guard again! Bookmark this essential caregiver checklist for your loved one’s next doctor’s appointment:

  • Identification card (state ID, driver’s license, passport, etc)
  • Insurance card (don’t assume the doctor’s office has the correct one on file, you never know when they will need a fresh copy)
  • Method of payment (in case there is balance after insurance)
  • Doctor’s office address and phone number (in case you need to check your smartphone map for directions or call them in the event traffic has delayed you)
  • Sweater (air-conditioned offices can get chilly!)
  • Snacks/water (in case there is a long wait, bring snacks and drinks you’re loved one can safely consume)
  • Prescriptions in their bottles/packaging (if required by the doctor)
  • Copy of medication list (including all prescriptions, over-the-counter and emergency medicines, even if prescribed by a different doctor)
  • Helpful wheelchair or other mobility aid accessory for long appointments (including foot pedals, neck rests and safety straps)
  • Change of clothing if needed (in a plastic bag)
  • Notes/questions for the doctor (write these down the night before so you don’t forget anything – even better, type them up in your smartphone or take a picture of a handwritten list!)
  • Health tracking (if your loved one is monitoring blood pressure or blood sugar at home, bring their log to the appointment for the doctor to see)
  • Glasses/sunglasses
  • Extra pair of disposable adult briefs (if needed)

Heading into cold and flu season, it’s important to remember small items that will make a big difference in keeping your loved one from catching something at the doctor’s office:

  • Travel tissues
  • Hand sanitizer or antiseptic wipes
  • Puzzle book, reading book or tablet (for long waits, so they don’t touch the community magazines in the waiting room)
  • Scarf, gloves, hat and other cold-weather protection
  • Vaccination records (does your loved one need the most recent flu or pneumonia vaccines?)

Tips for Attending Your Doctor’s Appointments

Sometimes doctor’s appointments can feel unproductive, especially when the doctor spends a significant amount of time heads down typing notes into their laptop. If you have found yourself more exasperated at the end of a doctor’s appointment instead of relieved, consider these proactive steps:

Bring a List of Questions with You

Holding a list in front of you not only allows you to take notes while you and your loved one chat with the doctor, but it also shows the doctor that you have an agenda to see to and helps you remember all your questions and concerns.

Ask the Doctor to Explain

Don’t feel stupid if you don’t understand something the doctor has said. Oftentimes, doctors can breeze through an explanation using medical terminology the average person doesn’t know. Ask them to explain it with simple questions like “What does that mean?” or “How will that affect daily living?”

Use a Checklist

Save time and stress by using a checklist like the one above to prepare and pack for a doctor’s appointment the day before instead of the morning of.

Would you be willing to do transportation duty for your mom or dad? Do you help drive them to their doctor’s appointments? What items would you add to your caregiver checklist for doctor’s visits? Please share in the comments below!

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