Patient & Caregiver Advocacy
Your loved one may be able to fully participate in discussions with the team but if you sense a hesitation, an inability to answer questions or if incorrect information is being offered to the physician, you need to speak up.
The physician will usually ask about any symptoms or problems the patient may be having. Some of these issues may be sensitive, such as incontinence, constipation, erectile dysfunction, memory loss or depression. If you are not asked about them specifically then bring up the issues yourself. Do not be embarrassed to discuss any of these issues. Your physician needs to know if there are any problems. The solution may be as simple as an adjustment in medication, a prescription to ease side effects or the discontinuation of the problem medication. If you don’t share the concerns, you won’t get an answer or result.
Notetaking is helpful but you should always ask for written directions regarding specific instructions for your loved one, names/phone numbers/addresses of any recommended resources, a reminder card indicating your next appointment and scrip for any new prescription medications.
Anytime a new medication is prescribed or an over-the-counter drug is recommended, you should make certain you understand the following for each:
- Description of the medication and its purpose.
- How to administer the medication.
- Any interactions or side effects to watch for.
- Symptoms of overdose.
For prescription medications, make certain you can read the written prescription and that you understand any abbreviations being used. At the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to show you the original scrip so you can compare that with the label on the container you are being given. Make certain that you are receiving the correct medication. It could be a matter of life and death. Dramatic, for sure, but true.
Always let the palliative care physician and team members know how you, as the caregiver and your family are doing. Discuss any problems or concerns you may have that relate directly to your health and wellbeing.