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Preparing For Your Doctor's Visit

Elderly woman preparing to meet with doctor

Preparing For Your Doctor's Visit

Has this ever happened to you?

Your loved one calls you numerous times complaining that he or she feels terrible, has pain that won’t go away, can’t sleep or has some other malady that is unbearable. They have a visit with their doctor and then tell you ‘nothing is wrong’ OR You take the time to make the appointment with their healthcare professional; arrange your schedule so you can go with them, only to have them say to the doctor “It’s not that bad”?

Not only does the situation frustrate you (and perhaps the doctor) but the issue or issues do not get addressed. To get the most out of a visit to a healthcare professional, take time to prepare:

  1. Before the visit-spend the time to write down what has been happening
    • When did it start?
    • Is it getting better? Worse? Staying the same?
    • Describe when the symptoms occur- every morning? Some evenings? All the time?
    • Describe how the symptom feels- pain so sharp I can’t stand up straight; I sleep only 3 hours each night, my stomach hurts an hour after I eat, etc.
    • What makes the symptom better? What makes it worse?
  2. Medications- bring a complete, current list
    • Include over the counter and vitamins
    • Know why you take each one
    • Be honest about how you take them- this is essential information especially if there have been missed doses
    • Nearly half of the people over 65 do not take their medications properly- this can lead to significant health issues
  3. Falls- be truthful about any falls
    • Many seniors hesitate to talk about falls because they don’t want to seem frail and they fear losing their independence
    • Falling may indicate the need for a simple intervention: a physical therapy order, assistance getting rid of clutter on the floor, a medication change
    • According to the CDC, 1 out of 3 older adults (over 65) falls each year but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it
    • 70% of accidental deaths in seniors are the result of falls
  4. Write down any questions you may have. It is very easy to forget to ask them! Preparing for the visit ahead of time will help you and your loved one paint an accurate picture for your healthcare professional and help you get the answers you need. What has helped you get your senior ready for a medical appointment?

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