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Improving Communication between Older People and Doctors
Feb 20, 2012

Older people belong to a generation that can view doctors with awe as authority figures - and this mindset can prevent them from having the conversations they need to have with their GP.   Unfortunately, the consequences of poor communication may be quite significant. Here are some ways that family members and/or carers can ensure more effective communication between older people and their doctors.

Preparing for an Appointment:

Put together a comprehensive Medical History Pack for the older person and bring a copy along to appointments - especially when visiting a new doctor. The Pack should include information such as a Medication Tracker (list of medications - previous and current), details on any Allergies, past health issues and treatments, medical card number, private health insurance details, next-of-kin contact names and numbers,  previous doctor’s names (if applicable) and so on. For a complete guide to preparing a medical history, download worksheets and checklists from

Prepare a list of questions with the senior in advance of the appointment  focusing on the specific medical issue to be raised.

During the Appointment

Make sure the older person sits face-to-face with the doctor to ensure he/she can hear properly.
Encourage the senior to take notes and/or ask the doctor to provide follow-up instructions in writing.
Encourage the older person to ask questions if he/she doesn’t understand something and to ensure that the questions prepared before the appointment are all answered.

If family members find it difficult to talk to elderly parents or relatives about their health, they should check out the 40-70 Rule® which provides advice and guidance on how to start sensitive conversations.  The idea is that when the children are 40 or the older person is 70, it’s time to start talking about certain issues.”



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