Helpful Tips for Seniors When Talking to the Doctor
Do you get as much face-to-face time with your physician as you’d like? If the answer is no, you aren’t alone.
In a 2017 national survey commissioned by The Physicians Foundation, just 11% of patients and only 14% of doctors felt they got enough time together during visits. The 15-minute doctor visit doesn’t leave much time to cover treatment options, medication side effects, or other health-related concerns. Your doctor may only glance at your medical records before or during your visit. That’s why it’s important for you—or a friend or family member accompanying you to your visit—to be able to speak clearly and authoritatively about your health. Employ these helpful tips to make the most out of talking to the doctor during your next appointment.
Become familiar with your medical records.
Having access to your own medical information can be extremely powerful. Seeing the information can help you to remember and track your health issues more easily. By law, you have the right to view your medical records. Your family doctor should have all of the information from your regular visits as well as from any specialists. If you want copies, your doctor’s office may charge a fee to cover printing costs. This is a common request. The front desk staff should easily be able to provide you with the cost and timeline for creating your copies.
Prioritize your health concerns.
During your visit, be prepared to provide a succinct overview of your top health concerns. This will help you to stay on track and make the most of your face-time with the doctor. Think of the primary reason why you made the appointment, followed by other pressing matters related to your health or medications. Try to stick to 2-3 issues and rank them by priority ahead of your appointment. This will help to ensure that you don’t walk out of your doctor’s office without addressing your most important health concerns.
If you have issues with your hearing, sight or memory, ensure that your doctor is informed prior to your appointment. This will allow your doctor’s office to prepare for your visit. For example, if you’re experiencing setbacks with your short-term memory, you or a physician’s assistant may need to write down important issues covered during the appointment. If you need to use a hearing aid or wear glasses, make sure you bring them to your appointment, just as you would your ID and insurance card(s).
You should feel comfortable speaking openly during your doctor’s appointment. This can include mentioning any new medication-related side effects or noteworthy changes to your mental or sexual health. If you brought along a friend or family member, don’t allow their presence to prevent you from sharing private but relevant information with your physician. You can always ask your companion to step out of the room for that portion of your visit.
Bring your medications to your appointment.
Include prescription and non-prescription medications that you take regularly. Having each bottle or container in-hand allows your doctor to see exactly which medications you are taking and at what dose and frequency. Seeing each item may trigger you to ask questions and mention any side-effects that you’ve been experiencing.
Review your options.
Your doctor is the professional, but you have a say in decisions regarding your health. If your doctor recommends a procedure, test, or medication, you can always ask about other options. For example, if your doctor recommends a medication that hasn’t worked well for you in the past, see if there is a different medication with fewer side effects.
Have your pharmacy’s information available.
If you use more than one pharmacy, be sure to ask your doctor where they will be sending your new or renewed prescription medicines. This will save you from the inconvenience and frustration of going to the wrong location. If you don’t have a regular pharmacy, ask your doctor to write a prescription rather than calling it in. That way, you can get your medication from a pharmacy that’s most convenient for you at that time.
Time with the doctor can be too brief, but a little preparation can make each visit more pleasant, informative, and productive. If you have questions about how to approach your next doctor’s appointment or if you need help locating medical resources in the area, feel free to contact us. Our compassionate, caring team is always happy to help.
About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.