Guest Blog

Tips for Caregivers and Parents from Guest blogger and Parent Tom Klinedinst

14 Jun 2017 by Tom Klinedinst
Much of our lives as caregivers are spent in doctor’s offices.  In fact, I think one of the most stressful experiences occurs in waiting rooms and examination rooms.  Often the fear and anxiety for the special needs person leads them to be on edge, and make behaviors worse.  Tyler has always gotten defensive the minute we walked in the door.  Every minute felt like hours watching him churn in his own anxiety.  This would have the exact same effect on me. 

No matter how frustrating the doctor’s office is, we must do things to make the experience easier.  More importantly, we must do things to keep the team approach alive and well.  The main goal of every appointment, without fail or exception, is to improve the quality of life for our special person.  If we ever allow our own impatience or frustration to overrule that, we are not doing our jobs as caregivers.

How do we make communicating with doctors easier?  Here are seven tips I have learned along the way:

Have doctors who care – Tyler has had some good ones and a few not-so-good-ones.  It happens.  However, those who didn’t show us that they genuinely cared about him, were gone as soon as we found a replacement.  Never settle for less.
Use morning appointments – I always made my appointments for the first or second time of the day.  This, many times, lessened the possible delays, thus lessened the anxiety.
Call before you leave – We had a doctor that was notoriously late, so before leaving we called ahead to find out.  If they said they were 90 minutes behind, we would ask them if we could come at least an hour late to limit Tyler’s wait time.  Most times they agreed.
Be on time! – Doctors need to respect our time, there is no question.  But showing up at the last minute or late to appointments make them less willing to take the time you really need.  It’s human nature, even for medical staffs, so be respectful of their time and they will be respectful of yours.
Come prepared – One of the smartest things we ever did was to maintain a sheet that listed Tyler’s information, including meds and past procedures.  This made life very easy to simply hand one to the staff for them to copy.  It saves everyone time and confusion.  It’s also great in an emergency when as caregivers we can forget our own name, much less the details about our special person.
Be involved – Doctors and nurses want to rely on you for information and suggestions.  Have a list of questions prepared.  Have an idea in your mind what your concerns are and the outcomes you are seeking.  Communicate clearly. 
Know when to talk and when to listen – Caregivers are not doctors, so we have to let them do the job we are asking them to do.  Always remain respectful, even in disagreement.  Make it clear that you want things to be done as a team approach.  If you treat them as a teammate, they will do the same for you.

It truly takes a team effort for our special needs loved ones to thrive.  Hopefully these tips will help you to be a great teammate!

Tom Klinedinst

My Walk With Tyler is about my journey with my son, Tyler, and is intended to provide a voice to caregivers, especially those with disabled children. To be fair, I am not a therapist, or an expert on special needs, nor would I intend to pretend to be. My goal is to share all of the triumphs and heartbreaks that we have been through, especially during this transition into Tyler’s residential placement. Because there is no “manual” for caregivers to follow, we must help each other find the way. My hope is that through my advice, stories, and experiences that the reader can find nuggets to add to their own journey. To read more from Tom click here!