How to Accompany a Senior Loved One to the Doctor: Four Keys to a Successful Appointment

taking older parents to doctor

Family involvement plays a critical role in positive health outcomes for senior citizens.

If your loved one is getting older and has begun to develop chronic medical issues, it may be a good time to start accompanying them to some or all of their doctors’ appointments. Conversations with physicians tend to be rushed and there often isn’t enough time to voice questions and concerns. By going to the doctor with your parent, it provides an advocate for their health. You can also remind them of particular questions they wanted to ask and take notes to recap all the important details. It’s wise to have a plan in place to help you and your aging loved one make the most of their visits to the doctor. In this article, we’ve outlined four important steps you’ll want to include in your preparations.


  • Start with a conversation.

Let your loved one know that you are interested in being their medical visit companion. Make it clear that you don’t want to take over their doctor appointments. Rather, you want to be an extra set of ears. You could say something like, “May I accompany you to your next appointment with Dr. Hopkins? I recognize your right to privacy, but there’s a lot to cover and it may be helpful for me to keep track of what the doctor says.”


  • Don’t exert your authority.

While your presence can be extremely beneficial in terms of providing increased support during your elderly loved one’s visit with the doctor, it can also interfere with their sense of independence. Ultimately, the decision regarding your level of participation lies with the patient. It can be helpful to offer your partnership instead of your control. This approach fosters the relationships between you, your parent, and the healthcare provider. If you encounter resistance, you might suggest a trial period during which your aging loved one may realize that your presence provides critical support and enhanced communication. Accompanying your senior for a few visits will also help you determine whether or not your presence is necessary.


  • Get fully prepared.

There are a number of tasks that you should take care of in advance of the appointment to make sure it goes smoothly:

  • Make a list of questions to ask the nurses and/or doctor to ensure nothing is forgotten or overlooked.
  • Create and bring a list of current prescriptions, vitamins, and supplements. Bring refill information, too.
  • Call ahead if special accommodations, such as a wheelchair, are needed during the appointment.
  • Leave early so you have ample time to get to the appointment, park, and walk to the check-in area. This will eliminate the stress that can come from being rushed.
  • Complete any paperwork you can in advance. It’s often available online. If not, contact the doctor’s office and ask them to mail the paperwork so you can fill it out and bring it with you to the appointment.


  • Let your parent take the lead.

This visit is between your loved one and their doctor, and you are there to listen. Your family member might prefer that you remain quiet and take notes, or they may encourage you to voice your questions and concerns liberally. Follow their lead but if important issues have not been addressed by the end of the appointment, be sure to raise them. Some caregivers find it helpful to accompany their loved ones at the beginning of an appointment to share information they think is important. Then they leave and sit in the waiting room, giving their loved ones time alone with their doctor. They return at the end to review any changes in their condition, medications, or the treatment plan.


Accompanying an aging parent to healthcare appointments is often difficult, but your participation in the process can be a beneficial part of their care. Keeping the lines of communication open will allow you and your loved one to make the best decisions when it's time for you to become a more active part of the process.

If you are concerned about your loved one’s health or think it’s time to accompany them to the doctor, we can provide resources to assist you. Please feel free to reach out to our compassionate funeral directors with your questions.


About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit

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