For Caregivers: How to Support Your Loved One at Appointments
Doctors' appointments are critical junctures in your loved one's lung cancer journey. They are a time to gather information and ask questions. We have created a list of tips for caregivers so that you feel prepared for your loved one's appointments, especially if you are new to the role.
- Ask your loved one how they would like you to support them. It is important to honor your loved one's autonomy, and establishing what they want and need from you is key. Your role may start as note-taker, emotional support, question-asker, advocate, or chauffeur, but can change throughout their journey. Checking in is always helpful – even for experienced caregivers.
- Assert Yourself as the Caregiver. Let your loved one’s healthcare team know your role from the beginning so that you can be included in conversations.
- Be an Advocate. Your loved one may be leading the conversation with their physician, but it is okay for you to speak up too. Listen to what is being said carefully, and if you have questions, concerns, or opinions, share them with your loved one and their healthcare team.
- Get to Know the Healthcare Team. Your loved one may be treated by a healthcare team made up of several doctors and practitioners. Get to know the team and their specialties so that you feel more comfortable asking questions. It may also be helpful to ask key physicians if you can have their email or phone number in case you need to contact them directly.
- Come with Questions and Take Notes. LUNGevity.org has a list of suggested questions to ask at each step of the lung cancer journey as well as checklists for doctor appointments. Being prepared for appointments may help lessen anxiety and provide both you and your loved one a sense of control. Taking notes, recording conversations on your smartphone, and asking the physician to write down important terms, like treatment names, may be helpful.
- Follow the Treatment Plan. The healthcare team may create a plan to treat your loved one, which can include procedures, multiple office visits, and a medication regimen. There may be a lot of instructions to follow, so you can help your loved one by reminding them of what actions they need to take or when and how to take their medicine.
These tips are a guide for helping your loved one during appointments, but there is not one right way to be a caregiver. As you settle into this role, know that there is a community of fellow caregivers where you can get support and advice. Learn more about our caregiver resources here and check out the event calendar to see when the next Thursday Caregiver Connection Virtual Meetup is taking place.