The primary care doctor or advanced practice provider* (APP) is the captain of a patient’s health, which is why it’s important you see one regularly. A regular checkup is a chance to identify problems early before they become more severe. In doing so, the checkup can help your loved one and you take control of their health with more treatment options and avoid suffering from a condition that has progressed.
What can you do if you have a loved one who puts off seeing a primary care provider (PCP)? Perhaps they have delayed because you are the only person they trust enough to talk to about their health needs. Here is a guide to helping your loved one see a primary care doctor or APP.
Before the visit: Talk to your loved one and make an appointment.
It might take some time to persuade your loved one of the importance of seeing a PCP. People who put off seeing the doctor have a long list of reasons for doing so. Don’t get trapped trying to argue about every point. Instead, a good strategy is to tell your loved one how much it would mean to you and the rest of your family if they decided to have a health visit. Once your loved one has agreed to go, make an appointment, and put it on your calendar.
During the visit: Ask questions and keep notes.
If you go with your loved one on their health visit and they are hesitant or unable to explain their condition, you may want to help. Try not to cut them off. If you’re speaking for them, explain to the PCP why you’re there and keep track of their advice and answers to questions on your smartphone or a notepad. Make sure you understand everything the PCP says and include your loved one in the conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions – you’ll save yourself a lot of stress by getting answers right then and there.
If your loved one is not comfortable with you being in the exam room at any part of the visit, don’t force the issue. Instead, make sure to check with them and the PCP in case there are items of which you should be aware.
Here are a few questions you might ask to support your loved one during the appointment.
- Why do I feel ___?
- What causes this problem?
- What tests does [my loved one] need and why?
- What are [my loved one’s] treatment choices and potential side effects?
- What kind of medication(s) should [my loved one] take and for how long?
- Does [my loved one] need to follow up appointment?
After the visit: Keep an open line of communication.
You made great progress getting your loved one to their health visit! It’s important to make sure you’re tracking all the follow-ups. The first thing to do is make sure your loved one understands what the PCP said during the visit. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, call the office and ask any remaining questions. If the PCP prescribes any medicine, ask your loved one if they need any help getting them filled, either checking with the pharmacy or picking up the prescription yourself. Set a calendar notification for any follow-up appointments your loved one might need and help remind them when they’re approaching.
Village Medical™ knows that caregivers have a tough job. That’s why we make it easy for you to help your loved ones through our simple-to-use app and other care offerings such as Village Medical at Home, where we bring comprehensive primary care to the place our patients feel most comfortable. Together, we can make sure your loved ones have a trusting relationship with a primary care doctor or APP.
*An advanced practice provider is defined as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant.