9 Questions a Caregiver Should Ask Their Parent’s Doctor

Reviewed and Updated by Troy Frink,

Being a caregiver can be fulfilling and joyful, but it can also be a lot of work. You may not know where to find information about your parent’s health condition or treatment plan. Luckily, your parent’s doctor can be a valuable resource who you can –– and should –– rely on for answers. Here are nine questions a caregiver should ask their parent or loved one’s doctor:

1. What can you tell me about my caregiving situation?

Doctor and Patient Discussing Treatment Plan - Medicare Plan Finder

Every caregiver’s situation is different. Your loved one may have different medical, nutritional, or assistive needs, and your doctor can tell you the best place to start with meeting your loved one’s healthcare needs. 

For example, your parent may need non-emergency medical transportation to their various appointments, and they might need special care. Your parent’s doctor may be able to provide contact information for medical transportation services, or even schedule rides to the office. You might not have considered that your loved one may need an EMT-certified driver, especially with rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft offering rides to doctor’s appointments.

When you ask your parent’s healthcare provider about your unique situation, the physician can discuss the individual needs your parent has. Your loved one’s doctor should feel like a partner in providing the best quality care. Your doctor may even tell you ways to take care of yourself, because it can be easy to forget your own needs when you’re so focused on someone else’s.

2. Can you help me connect with other caregivers in similar situations to me?

It can be easy to feel like you’re on your own as a caregiver. An important question a caregiver should ask is what type of non-medical support they might need. Your parents’ provider may recommend resources such as caregiver support groups and online forums. It’s valuable to connect with other people in similar situations. 

When you feel like you have emotional support, you’re able to take better care of your parent. It can be easy to feel frustrated or overwhelmed as a caregiver. A support group can give you ideas to cope, tips for providing better care, and/or just lend an empathetic ear. Your parent’s doctor can give you ideas about how to build a support system.

3. What can I do to build confidence in my caregiving activities and skills?

Your parent’s doctor should talk about your parent’s treatment plan and care needs with you. You should feel confident in your abilities to properly administer medications or help with physical therapy. If you’re unsure of how to do something the doctor recommends, ask them to explain the task further.

Ask if there are any shortcuts, tips, or tricks you need to know about. Find out if you can practice complex tasks so you can help effectively. Some tasks may be dangerous to perform on your own, and you may need to find outside assistance. Find out if you need to look into home health care services or if you can perform the tasks on your own.

Medicare Caregiver Support

4. Can you help me arrange respite care when I need a break?

Providing 24-hour care can be rewarding, but also exhausting. Sometimes you need to take a break. “Respite care” is when your loved one stays at a hospital or other care facility so you can get some much-needed rest. It may give you peace of mind to know that your parent is staying at a facility with qualified professionals. 

Your loved one’s healthcare provider can point you in the right direction for finding respite care services. 

5. What do I need to know about my parent’s diagnosis?

Every health condition or disease may have different need-to-know information. For example, your doctor may tell you to avoid fatty cuts of beef if your loved one has high cholesterol. 

Your parent’s provider should tell you how and when to administer medications, how often you need to make follow-up appointments, and what symptoms to watch out for. The healthcare provider should help you provide the best possible care for your loved one, and that includes knowing the ins and outs of your parent’s health.

6. How will you coordinate with my loved one’s other healthcare providers?

Some diagnoses mean that your parent requires a care team. For example, your loved one might have a gerontologist, a physical therapist, and a neurologist. Ask how the team will coordinate your loved one’s care and keep you in the loop. 

For example, some healthcare facilities feature apps to contact care team members if you have questions or need to refill prescriptions. Health facility apps can also include post-appointment notes  so you can access any information you need. 

7. I found this information on the internet. Is it accurate?

Looking up Medical Information on the Internet - Medicare Plan Finder

Google has a wealth of information about any disease you can think of. Sources such as WebMD and the Mayo Clinic offer information about symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatments for a seemingly infinite number of health conditions. 

Even though the internet has more information that you could ever need, the information can pose a problem for doctors and patients. 

For example, your loved one could fall and bruise their knee. You Google “knee pain,” and read the first web page you see from WebMD. The article you read could have you thinking that your loved one needs a full knee replacement, but all they really need is an ice pack and some over-the-counter pain medications

Your parent’s doctor will be able to help determine what’s really going on and sort out the facts from the fiction. 

8. Should I be concerned about these new symptoms I’m observing?

If your parent has a degenerative health condition or they have new symptoms, ask the doctor if you should be concerned. Your loved one’s healthcare provider will let you know if they need to see your loved one or if you notice something normal. Your parent’s doctor should be available to answer your questions in a timely manner.

9. How will I know when it’s time to look into hospice care?

At some point, your loved one may need to switch from curative (to find a cure) care to palliative (to provide comfort) care. Your parent may be eligible for hospice care if curative care will not work and palliative care is the only option. 

Ask your doctor to let you know when it’s time to start palliative care only, and if they know of any resources to find hospice care. 

Find Medicare Caregiver Resources

As a caregiver, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Use this list of questions a caregiver should ask their loved one’s doctor can be a valuable source of information if you ask the right questions. 

Another valuable resource is your parent’s health insurance plan. If you have durable power of attorney, you can make Medicare decisions for your loved one. A licensed agent with Medicare Plan Finder may be able to help you find a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan that suits your healthcare needs and fits your budget. Call 1-844-431-1832 or contact us here to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation appointment today.

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