Healthy living is something we often take for granted, until we find ourselves faced with an unexpected diagnosis or a troubling new health concern that didn’t exist in our younger years. Our bodies need tune-ups, just like our favorite car. We all want to travel, enjoy our families, and be around our grandkids. The best way to enjoy these priorities in life is to make a habit of scheduling regular doctor’s visits. So how do we make the most of these brief visits?
As part of our work at the award-winning in-home care agency my wife, Gina, and I own, we lead a number of free events throughout the community every year. These educational events provide opportunities for aging parents and their loved ones to join us and learn more about a variety of topics for seniors. One of our favorite seminars focuses on this exact topic – and we give some great advice during the one-hour discussion.
Here are our top 3 tips for making the most out of every doctor’s visit:
1. When should I make an appointment? In addition to regular annual visits and screening for health concerns as we age, if you’ve had a sudden change that affects your life or your health, you should consider scheduling an appointment. A good rule of thumb: if you’re concerned, call.
2. What to know before you go: There are steps you can take even before you head to the doctor. Keep these things in mind:
Make sure your health insurance cards and photo IDs are up to date.
Note any changes to your daily schedule or health on a calendar you can bring into the visit. Have you changed your medication? Are you experiencing any pain? Have you fallen lately? The more you note about your health, the better your physician can diagnose the illness and offer treatment and relief to you.
Your physician is your friend, not your foe. Don’t be embarrassed to share your physical ailments or emotional health concerns.
3. What to do once you get there: It’s helpful to have a friend join you to take notes and ask questions you may not think of. Use it as an excuse to spend time with a friend and grab lunch together after the appointment!
On the day of the appointment, create a notecard with a list of all your questions that you can keep in your wallet or purse.
Bring your glasses or hearing aids as well as any medication you’re currently taking.
And remember to be honest with your physician. They can’t help you if they don’t know what’s wrong!
We created a one-page document for our clients called, “Getting ready for your next doctor’s visit” which is available to download for free from our website. We hope it’s a helpful resource for you as you prepare to take the best care of your health and enjoy aging well!
Tim Murray, co-founder and president of Aware Senior Care, wrote this guest column for regular columnist Carol Marak, aging advocate, Seniorcare.com.