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Communication…the Essentials

By William R. Leahy, M.D.

(Page 4 of 5)

Communication with Medical Professionals
Communication with a care team is equally as important as communication with your loved one and within your family. Do not hesitate to take an active role in the care of your loved one. You, as caregiver, must understand what plan of care has been established. You must be able to send clear and accurate messages about the state of your loved one’s health. As a family caregiver, you are often in the best position to observe changes in symptoms, abilities and general health. The more clearly these are conveyed to the doctor, nurse or other professional caregivers, the better the care that will be provided. Planning your communication in advance and writing notes will help you get all necessary information across and ensure that all of your questions are answered. Be polite and focus on the information that you need to send and receive, rather than any frustrations you may have. While the experience of visiting a doctor’s office may be frustrating, it is more important to get the information you need than to express your aggravation.
Observing and Reporting
As a family caregiver, you probably spend more hours with you loved one than anyone else does. You are in an excellent position to observe and report on his condition, including any changes, occurrences or new symptoms.
Any of the following should be reported immediately to the doctor or agency. You may also need to call 9ll or go to an emergency room for assistance for falls, chest pain, severe headache, difficulty breathing, changes in mental status such as confusion, sudden weakness, high fever, loss of consciousness or bleeding.
Less urgent conditions should also be reported--loss of appetite, rash, difficulty sleeping, pain, weakness or fatigue, nausea, depression or withdrawal.
You should not try to diagnose the problem nor should you try to decide if a complaint is important or trivial. When in doubt, report it.


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