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Be Prepared: Tips for Creating Productive Neurology Appointments

Posted Nov 04 2012 6:15pm

Managing your Parkinson’s Disease is a partnership between you and your neurologist. Help make the limited time you have together in appointments productive by being prepared.

Preparing for Your First Appointment

Prepare your health history (previous illnesses, hospitalizations, surgeries, allergies, etc.) and bring it to the visit. You may want to ask your neurologist if there is a form you can complete prior to the visit.

Bring other medical information and test results, such as lab work, x-rays, and MRIs. For radiological studies, ask the office if they prefer copies of the films or if reports are adequate. You may also ask your primary doctor to send records directly to your neurologist's office.

Bring a list of the doctors you want your neurologist to update about your medical condition. Be sure to include their telephone, fax numbers, and addresses.

Bring your insurance card, co-pay, photo ID and referral, if needed.

Ask your care partner to attend the appointment. It’s important to have another set of eyes and ears and someone to listen, take notes, and ask questions. If your care partner is unavailable, ask a family member or friend to accompany you.

Arrive early to allow time for parking, using the restroom, getting to the appropriate building and reception area, checking in and filling out paperwork. If you need your doctor’s signature on any paperwork (such as prescriptions to be refilled, disability forms to be completed, request for handicapped parking, request to be excused from work), it is important to give the paperwork to the nurse or doctor upon arrival at your appointment.

Preparing for Subsequent Appointments

Before the appointment, prepare the following:

List of current prescriptions including names, dosage, and how often and what time you take them. Gather all your medications in a bag to bring to your visit.

List of current supplements including names, dosage, and how often and what time you take them.

List of current symptoms in order of how troublesome they are to you. Use bold type to identify the three most troublesome symptoms.

List of movement symptoms such as walking, falling, freezing, getting out of a chair, moving in bed, etc.

List of nonmovement symptoms such as swallowing, speech, nausea, constipation, urinary frequency and/or urgency, drooling, excessive sweating, dizziness upon standing, swollen ankles, sleep disorders, restless legs, etc.

List of fluctuations in your symptoms including on/off fluctuations such as those related to medication cycle eating, sleeping, and exercise.

List of episodes of dyskinesias (those involuntary movements caused by Parkinson’s medications) and whether they occur at the peak or end of the medication cycle.

List of changes in your mental status such as depression, anxiety, cognition, difficulty in ability to make plans, hallucinations, compulsive or excessive behaviors such as shopping, gambling or sex.

List of observations/information regarding your condition or any changes in your condition.

List of questions regarding your condition, symptoms, treatment, medications, alternative therapies, or new developments you have heard about that may apply to you. List the three important questions first. It is important to prioritize in case there is not enough time to address everything in your appointment.

During the appointment, ask for referrals to the following:

Speech Therapy for help with speech, communication and swallowing problems.

Physical Therapy for help with balance, gait, strength, pain, and flexibility issues.

Occupational Therapy for help with handwriting problems, home modifications, and adaptations to make your activities of daily living easier.

If your neurologist prescribes medication, make sure you fully understand:

What has been prescribed and its potential benefits, possible side effects and what to do if these side effects occur.

If there is an acceptable generic substitution?

Exactly when and how long you are to take your medication(s).

Make sure to double-check that the medications you get from the pharmacy are the same medications that have been prescribed for you.

At the End of the Appointment

Make a follow-up appointment, if necessary.

Find out when your neurologist will get back to you with your test results.

Know what the next steps are in your care.

References:

Shaky Paws Top 10 Recommendations for PWP's by Kirk Hall http://shakypawsgrampa.blogspot.com/2012/05/shaky-paws-top-10-recommendations-for.html

Making the Most Out of Your Visit to the Neurologist: A Check-Up Checklist by Lawrence I. Golbe, MD http://www.pdf.org/en/yy_doctor_checklist

Preparing for Your Neurology Appointments: Helping Your Neurologist to Help You! Prepared by Diane Church, PhD http://www.apdama.org/cmsAdmin/uploads/Preparing-for-Your-Neurology-Appointment.pdf

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