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How To Communicate Your Loved One's Symptoms

Review this list of questions as you are preparing for a visit to the doctor with your loved one. The questions are organized by category. Select the questions that best fit your needs. Please note that not all of these questions may be applicable to your situation. Feel free to add your own!


Overall Well-being

  • Is your loved one eating well? Any sudden changes in diet or fussiness about eating? Any sudden cravings?

  • Is his/her weight stable? If not, what is happening?

  • Is he/she sleeping well? Unable to fall asleep? Has nightmares? Sleeps restlessly? Wakes up and is unable to go back to sleep?

  • Is he/she getting some kind of exercise? Suddenly doing more or less than typical?

  • Is there any sign of abuse or neglect that you've noticed? If so, what is it?


General Condition

  • In general, does the treatment plan seem to be working? If not, what seems to be wrong?

  • Is a particular problem the reason for this office visit? If so, what are the major symptoms or concerns?

  • Does the patient seem to have "slowed down" noticeably since the last visit? If so, in what way?

  • Does he/she have any unusual bleeding? Where? How much?

  • Does he/she seem to be breathing easily? If not, what is the quality of the breathing?

  • Is his/her digestive system working well? If not, what seems to be the matter?

  • Are his/her limbs moving as they usually do? Is he/she struggling to handle things?



  • Is your loved one complaining about pain? What does he/she say it feels like?

  • Where is it located?

  • On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain imaginable, how does the patient rate his/her pain?

  • How long has the pain lasted?

  • Does it move around or stay in one place?

  • Does it come and go, or is it there all the time?

  • Does the pain seem to occur in relation to something else (e.g., eating, standing up suddenly, while reaching for something overhead)?

  • Is there anything that makes the pain better or worse?

  • Does pain medication help? If so, how much?



  • Is the patient taking his/her medications on time? At the prescribed dose? If not, what seems to be going wrong?

  • Is he/she complaining about or suffering from any side effects? If so, what are they (drowsiness, hyperactivity, etc.)?

  • Does anything seem to have suddenly changed in his/her response to medication? If so, what is it?

  • Did he/she stop taking a medication for any reason? If so, why and what happened as a result?


Emotional and Mental Well-being

  • Does your loved one seem to be as mentally sharp and alert, or has there been a noticeable decrease in mental function? What are the symptoms?

  • How is his/her memory, both long-term and short-term? Has it changed recently? If so, in what way?

  • Can he/she still do and enjoy activities as in the past? Has something suddenly become boring or unpleasant?

  • Does he/she feel responsible for being ill and/or angry about his/her condition?

  • Does he/she fear the truth and put off doctor visits based on what he/she thinks the doctor may say about his/her problem?

  • Is he/she able to laugh and enjoy life?

  • Does he/she seem to be more emotionally overwrought than usual? In what way?

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