Questions to ask your physician

Categories: Care.

You can get support for you or your loved ones. Get a diagnosis. Determine if the issues is organic, or caused by other issues, i.e., polypharmacy, delirium. Talk to your parents and ensure that they are not being undeserved by the health care system.

Oncologists, especially, must be accountable to their patients to identify a treatment plan.

Patients, or their caregivers, must ask the hard questions to determine whether the treatment plan will interfere with quality of life.

Essentially, with seniors there are

  • statistics that can predict the quality of the treatment,
  • its impact on the patient and caregivers,
  • and the probability of its success.

A patient and family must ask:

  • about treatment options – you need NOT have the treatment if you choose not to.
  • how far the disease has progressed (i.e., is it in the lymph nodes?)
  • what is the prognosis?
  • about the impact on the quality of life during treatment
  • about the impact on the quality of life after treatment
  • How can I avoid or relieve my symptoms?
  • How can I relieve pain? (Agitation or pain? Get a pain management kit if you are at that stage of the cancer.)
  • If removal of lymph nodes is suggested: what is the impact of lymphedema?
  • How much time you will gain and at what cost?

The impact of radiation can vary widely with patients, but one result of this treatment is the destruction of infection-fighting antibodies. My father fought a urinary tract infection undiagnosed in the emergency ward, and he was sent home incontinent and unable to function with the side effect of delirium.

The need to determine the outside resources available if, for example, the patient is incapacitated by radiation treatment or chemotherapy. In Ontario CCAC will help with this.


Ask if you are taking the right medications, in the right amounts. Your pharmacist will help you. Ask if the medications are doing you more harm than good.

Ask if they are necessary.

Ask if they are improving the quality of your life, or making it worse.

Ask yourself if the benefits outweigh the side effects.

To find out more about Jennifer Jilks’ blog and her book, please click here.

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