Visits to the doctor sometimes involve difficult words, such as medical jargon, and you may feel hurried in your communication if the appointment seems rushed. We asked you for your best tips for communicating during medical appointments. These are the great thoughts people suggested.
Prepare Information at Home
Walter not only has a great suggestion, but he also provides a downloadable sheet. He says, “I have a sheet with my name, DOB, phone number, address, wife and phone number, other doctors, drugstore, morning meds, and evening meds.” Now you can, too.
Write It Down
By writing down questions beforehand, you can prioritize the ones that you need to cover in the appointment. Elizabeth suggests, “Be prepared with a written script on a notepad — easy to read — on how you are doing. Limit it to key questions.”
It also gives you a chance to look up information ahead of time. Paul shares, “Research beforehand. Write down the questions and then practice them.” Tim echoes that idea: “Write it down before you go. Use notes on your phone ahead of time so you will be prepared.”
Guide the Conversation
Sometimes you need to prompt the other person to make a conversation aphasia-friendly. Start by bringing up aphasia with the intake nurse or other staff. Boyd suggests using aphasia as a starting point when the doctor enters the room: “Tell the doctor, ‘I have aphasia’.” Cynthia cautions not to take it for granted that medical staff will know about aphasia:
Go ahead and tell them you have aphasia. In my case, I also let them know that I am a stroke survivor because most people don’t know how to recognize aphasia. Yes, even in a doctor’s office, the people who answer the phone sometimes!
Trazana also suggests asking doctors to “repeat or ask for information in a written form of communication.” In other words, help them be aphasia-friendly by making suggestions that will help you.
Take Someone With You
You may have noticed that many doctors today bring a notetaking assistant to the appointment. You can, too! Theresa suggests bringing a “caregiver spokesperson,” if you’re worried about communication. Even if you feel confident, it always helps to have a second pair of ears listen to the information. Seth states:
Bring someone to take notes and show you during the meeting, if helpful. Also, if comfortable, try to educate the doctor about aphasia and your need for an accommodation to communicate.
Bruce informs us what he does when he goes alone:
I bring a notepad with questions and a Sony Voice recorder so I can record the meeting with the doctor, Then I can play back the recording with my wife later.
It’s a great device if you don’t want to have to find the recording app on your phone.
Aphasia-friendly communication means using every communication tool at your disposal, including pictures. Brooke suggests keeping a “photo on your phone with your medications.” Doreen also uses pictures: “List your concerns ahead of the appointment. Use pictures, google searches, and print information. Bring all medical records. (You can keep them on your phone, too!).”
We hope these help your next appointment go smoothly.