Tips to Help Seniors at the Doctor’s Office

by Lois Etienne on January 28, 2011

in Senior Health and Safety

Seattle_wa_seniorQ. Since my wife died last year, I’ll be going to the doctor alone for my annual physical this year.  I’m nervous and don’t know what to ask.  And, at age 78, I’m hard of hearing.  Do you have any suggestions?

We thought you might find the following information helpful.  U.S. Preventive Medicine, a private company that works with hospital and physicians groups, recently released tips to help consumers get the most from their annual physicals.

  • Prioritize and verbalize personal concerns and goals. Before you go to the visit, identify all of your concerns and what you expect, and write those down.
  • Review family medical history. Many diseases are hereditary.  Make sure you know your family history and provide a detailed outline to the doctor.
  • Get an examination the old-fashioned way. A thorough physical must include a thorough examination, no matter how uncomfortable, for early detection and prevention.
  • Find out about metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and is easily diagnosed through a cholesterol or lipid profile, blood glucose (sugar), blood pressure readings and measurement of waist circumference.  Metabolic syndrome is not routinely addressed by many doctors during a physical. Take the initiative and ask if you should be assessed.
  • Ask about screening for chronic diseases. Early detection leads to improved prognosis for many of the most common chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  Talk to your doctor about a schedule of recommended preventive screenings.
  • Review the list of prescription and over-the-counter medication you currently take. While medications and supplements may have life-saving benefits or provide symptom relief, all may induce detrimental side effects in some individuals under certain circumstances.  Provide your doctor with a complete list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements that you are taking or have   recently taken.

Another suggestion is to take a trusted friend or family member with you to the doctor’s appointment. That individual can help you understand what the doctor is saying if you can’t hear his/her comments and instructions.  If you don’t have anyone like that, consider hiring a professional caregiver from Home Instead Senior Care, who not only can accompany you to doctor’s visits but help you maintain a healthy lifestyle as well.

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