Family Caregivers Should Learn Basic Medical Language

The parent or relative who serves as a long-term caregiver to a family member can gain a lot of credibility with the medical team by asking questions and getting involved with treatment. Learning basic medical language gives the caregiver a big advantage. Medical professionals – particularly doctors – speak in terms of symptoms and treatment for a specific condition. A caregiver doesn’t have to go to medical school to become versed in medical terms, but making an effort to learn as much as possible about a disease or injury has its benefits.

An Informed Home Caregiver Speaks the Doctor’s Language

Unless a caregiver already has a medical background, it takes some doing to become familiar with terms the doctors and nurses use. Write down key words and phrases for future reference. Ask the doctor or nurse to write down or spell words not easily understood. At home or at a library, do the research and learn what the words and phrases mean and how they relate to the person in your care.

Why is it so important for a home caregiver to become familiar with medical terms and concepts?

  • Knowing medical terms associated with your patient enables you to ask intelligent questions.
  • Knowledge of the medical condition allows you to answer questions using keywords.
  • Caregiving is made easier when the primary caregiver can recognize symptoms and characteristics relative to the patient’s condition. He can relay key information to the medical team, thus saving valuable time.
  • The caregiver can converse easily with doctors, therapists, the nutritionist, and most anyone else on the medical team.

No one, except for the medical professionals, can be expected to know the specifics of an injury or condition right away. But, as time passes, a clueless caregiver is likely to give the other team members cause for concern. The caregiver who doesn’t understand at least some of what is being discussed may be putting the patient in danger.

A Caregiver Benefits From Learning Basic Medical Language

Understanding a medical diagnosis and treatment isn’t quite so scary and overwhelming for the caregiver who’s done some research. A caregiver has to have good communication skills among other qualities. Going the extra mile to learn and understand medical concepts specific to her patient makes a good impression on the medical team. Her (or his) efforts indicate to the medical professionals that she is dedicated and committed to doing the best possible job.

An informed caregiver who’s “on the ball” has a lot to gain:

  • Confidence. A caregiver who’s confident and comfortable performing medical duties is less likely to become anxious and overwhelmed.
  • Ease of making decisions. It’s much easier to make intelligent caregiver decisions when you know what’s going on.
  • Reduced stress. Both the caregiver and the patient experience less stress when things run smoothly.
  • Ability to manage emergencies. A skilled caregiver thinks through every detail and stays prepared for anything.
  • Respect of the medical team. The caregiver that asks questions takes notes and truly gets involved is a joy to work with.