4. Take notes

Bring a pad and pen to jot down information from the doctor. You might also record the conversation so that you can listen to it again later. Or bring a friend or another family member and ask him or her to take notes or to stay with your loved one while you take notes. If you don't understand something the doctor tells you, ask for clarification.

5. Consider the future

Ask the doctor to discuss what to expect in the next year or two. You might ask about advance directives, long term care or nursing home placement. You might also discuss hospice or palliative care. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare.

6. Ask for referrals or recommendations

If you need help, ask. The doctor can refer you to various community resources, such as the local area agency on aging, meal services, senior centers, respite care and support groups.

7. Deal promptly with conflict

If something annoys you about a particular appointment or if a misunderstanding arises, discuss it with the doctor right away. Work as a team to resolve the problem, rather than rushing to switch doctors. A change could be confusing to your loved one and detrimental to his or her care in the long run.

Medical Appointment Checklist (PDF file requiring Adobe Reader)

Feb. 28, 2014 See more In-depth