Preparing for Your Appointment

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Communication tips

A good relationship and clear communication with the doctor will result in the best care for your loved one. Here are some tips to help make talking to your doctor more effective:

  • Be prepared. Several days before your appointment, confirm that your referring doctor has completed the steps listed on the Make a Referral page. You can use these worksheets to help you track medical history, health changes, your concerns and current medications. When your appointment time comes, arrive early to fill out forms, bring two copies of your completed worksheets so you can go over it together and bring a pen and paper to jot down notes.
  • Speak up. Doctors tend to prioritize diagnostic information and core concerns early in the office visit. Mention your most important concerns early in the visit to be sure you have time to cover them. It might be helpful to use the list in the appointment worksheets.
  • Listen and take notes. Sometimes it feels like a doctor's appointment is over in a blink of an eye, and all you walk out with is the blurred memory of a meeting and a prescription. Take notes or bring a tape recorder and ask the doctor if you can record the visit to help you better remember the information you discuss. If you don't have time to write down what the doctor says during your appointment, take a few minutes to sit in the waiting room afterwards and write down everything you remember.
  • Ask questions. Don't hesitate to ask for clarification if your doctor uses unfamiliar words or gives confusing instructions. Any recommendations you get need to fit your personal, cultural and financial situation so that you can put them into practice. Don't leave the office without understanding everything the doctor tells you.

Questions you might ask your doctor

Here are some questions you might want to ask your doctor or nurse. Feel free to add your own questions. It might help to write these down and bring them with you, leaving room to write down the answers you get.

  1. Do you know what is wrong? How do you know?
  2. Where can I go for information, advice and resources?
  3. Should I see a specialist?
  4. Do I need a follow-up visit?
  5. What tests do I need and why?
  6. What do the tests involve?
  7. Are there changes I should watch for?
  8. When should I call you?

It may be helpful to let doctors know about this website (memory.ucsf.edu) before your next visit.