Communicating with the Healthcare Provider - Dementia Caregiver Web Support
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Dementia Caregiver Web Support


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Communicating with the Healthcare Provider

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doctor talking to elderly person and caregiver
Due to the toll of dementia on memory and language abilities, it is important that caregivers assist their loved ones in their communication with healthcare providers.

Before reading the content on this page, it may be beneficial to review the following video(s) from the Office of Rural Health (ORH).

Communicating with Your Doctor
Length: 05:08 (Link opens new window)
Helping Harold & Margaret understand the stages of dementia.

Tips on Communicating with the Health Care Team

  • Allow your loved one to talk with health care providers to the best of their ability. This helps them to maintain a sense of control and lets providers see any difficulties they are having with communication.
  • Before appointments, make a list of things you wish to discuss with the health care provider. For example, take notes on any changes in behavior or memory problems you are noticing. Bring this list to your loved one's health care appointments and tell your provider at the beginning of the visit that you have some items to talk about.
Be sure to tell the health care providers about challenges that you are having as a caregiver.  Sometimes your doctor can help identify resources to assist you, such as home health services.
pills and medication
  • You should also bring a list of all medications and dosages that your loved one is using, including over the counter prescriptions and supplements.
  • Take notes while you are at appointments.  This will help you remember new instructions or changes in plans.  Ask your provider how to contact them between scheduled appointments if any problems occur, or if you have questions.
  • If it is possible, set up the appointment for the time of day when your loved one is the most alert and cooperative.  This is typically the mid-morning or early-afternoon but varies from person to person.  Try not to schedule anything else on the same day as the appointment.  This will allow time to rest afterwards and will not create unnecessary stress for you or your loved one.
  • Bring snacks or an activity to complete while in the waiting room.  For example you may bring a magazine or photo album to look over with your loved one while the time is passing.  This can help an individual who is restless or easily bored.  It is also helpful to select a quiet, unoccupied area of the waiting room.

Review this tip sheet to help promote regular and open communication with the medical personnel on the Veteran's clinical care team.

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VA Resources

US Department of Veterans Affairs
VA values your commitment as a partner in our pledge to care for those who have "borne the battle." We have several support and service options designed with you in mind. The programs are available both in and out of your home to help you care for yourself and the Veteran you love.

Geriatrics and Extended Care Services (GEC) is committed to optimizing the health and well-being of Veterans with multiple chronic conditions, life-limiting illness, frailty or disability associated with chronic disease, agining or injury. This VA site reviews information on delirium, dementia and Alzheimer's care, decision making, home and community based services, and advance care planning, among many other important topics that may be important for you as a caregiver.

Veteran's Crisis Line Phone: 1-800-273-8255 (Veterans Press 1)

The VA does not endorse the following resources or guarantee that their information is 100% accurate.  However, you may be able to find some helpful information by visiting the following pages:

Alzheimer's Association
Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregiving Center: Working with Care Providers

Caregiver Support Online: Ways to Help Communication

References: Information adapted from Alzheimer’s Association and Office of Rural Health
If you have any questions or concerns, contact us.