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  • Communicating with Your Health Care Practitioner
  • Communicating with Your Family and Caregiver
  • Shared Decision-Making Using Decisions in the Grey
  • Communication Skills For Your Family and Caregivers

Talking is not the same as communicating. Health practitioners talk to patients and caregivers but often remain unaware of "what matters" to them. For example, among persons who are very sick or frail only about half of the time do the health practitioners seem aware of bothersome pain and emotional problems. Furthermore, only about 20% of the very sick have been told the right amount of information about what to expect in the future.

Communicating with Your Health Care Practitioner

It is important to talk with a health care practitioner not only about a serious illness, but also about any fears and concerns. Although it is difficult for some people to speak up during a clinic visit, it is important to take an active part in decisions about care.

Part One: Preparation

Part Two: At the Office

Review with your health practitioner your Current Situation and Action Plan printouts from or the same information contained in your Personal Health Record (from HowsYourHealth).

Your health care practitioner expects to answer "tough" questions such as:

Part Three: Leaving the Office

Communicating with your Family and Caregivers

Letting your family and friends be part of your care is important. They will want to help but need you to tell them how they can help. The best way to do this is to be as open and honest as possible. Share the details of your medical condition, including treatment and what you have been told about the future. Show them your Current Situation and Action Plan printouts or Personal Health Record from

Communicating with those caring for you will often involve asking them to answer some tough questions, but it can help all of you if you can do this in an open and honest way. For example, it may be helpful to ask your family and caregivers:

Shared Decision-Making Using Decisions in the Grey

Decisions in the Grey is designed to help persons aged 65 years of age or older make the best test and treatment decisions. But before using Decisions in the Grey, all persons who are very sick or frail, regardless of age, should have completed an Advanced Care Plan and worked with the health care practitioner to create Orders for Life Sustaining Treatments.

Communication Skills For Family and Caregivers

Communication involves both speaking and listening. Some guides for good communication are:

We have tried to make the How's Your Health error-free. However, those involved in its preparation can not warrant that all of the information is accurate and complete. When you use How's Your Health as a guide for your health and medical care, be sure to discuss any questions about it with your doctor, nurse, or other health care worker.