Older Adults_Bars-Geriatric Pain

Communication with Healthcare Provider


The information in this section provides support to individuals experiencing pain to understand the most effective ways to communicate with their Healthcare team about pain.  And, assist them in documenting and communicating important information about pain to the Healthcare team.

Communication-Older Adults-Accordion

One of the most important things you can do in working with your Healthcare team is to communicate effectively about your pain and prepare in advance for upcoming medical appointments.  This will allow you to get the most out of the time you have with your provider. Open and honest communication with a Healthcare provider assists in providing important information to support the development and revision of the individualized pain treatment plan.

Your Healthcare provider may be a Doctor, a Nurse Practitioner or a Physician’s Assistant, and they may be part of a larger Healthcare team.  Or, your provider may be a primary care provider (PCP) or a specialist. Whichever the case, the amount of time received during a medical appointment with the provider may vary.

Things you can do to improve Communication with Healthcare Providers & Prepare for Visits

Use a Pain Diary.  A Pain Diary is a journal where patients or family caregivers document information about pain episodes, including the date and time, characteristics of pain (see list below) and any other relevant comments regarding medication or activities related to the pain. 

   • Location(s) of pain

   • Onset (when it started)

   • Frequency (how often)

   • Intensity (rating of pain in the location identified)

   • Duration (how long the pain lasted)

   • Pattern (progress of the pain over time, does it change?)

   • Quality (description of the pain)

A Pain Diary provides a central location to write down questions or information to share with the provider, so you remember them when you are preparing for your visit.

Consistency use a Pain Diary between each visit to document pain information to share with the Healthcare provider. 

Consider completing a “Preparing for a Medical Appointment” Tool to document questions and information you want to share at your next visit. Gather the Pain Diary and any other notes you prepared leading up to the appointment and add that information to the “Preparing for a Medical Appointment” Tool.

Plan to take an updated list of your current medications (including name of medication, dosage, why taking the medication, etc.) to each medical appointment to review with your Healthcare provider.

TOOLS:

   • Communicating about Pain with the Healthcare Team: For Older Adults PDF

Pain Diary is used to monitor pain over time, collect data on possible pain triggers and provide information for a healthcare provider to make best treatment decisions.

• Pain Diary Tool PDF

• FAST FACTS: How to Use a Pain Diary PDF

This tool assists patients to prepare for an upcoming visit with their Healthcare Provider including what they should take with them to the appointment; a location to develop a list of questions they would like to ask their provider and information they want to be sure to share with their provider.

• Medical Appointment Tool PDF

This tool is used to monitor the use of medications and any reactions that need to be reported to the primary care provider. The patient should record all medications they are taking and include the additional information listed on the Medication List for each medication. This list should be taken to an appointment with their healthcare provider for review.

Medication List: For Older Adults PDF

This document provides a definition and relevance to patients for several common pain terms such as types of pain, pain descriptors, and items related to assessment and management of pain and pain treatments.

Pain Terminology: For Older Adults PDF

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