It is common in this day and age for doctor and patient to have more of a communicative relationship. You, as the patient, can take an active role in your care. This means asking questions and fully understanding how your health is being managed. For seniors it is especially important because there may be more health conditions and treatments that need to be discussed. How well you and your doctor talk to each other is key in getting the right care for your needs, but there can be obstacles on either side.
- Patients often struggle to say exactly what they want to say and knowing how to say it.
- Doctors, according to the National Institute on Aging, will start to interrupt the patient in an average of 18 seconds.
How, then, can a patient ensure they are asking the right questions and understanding the doctor’s information? We’ve put together some tips to help you get the most out of your appointments.
Before Your Appointment
* Make a list of concerns
* Bring a list of your current medicines
* Have all of your medical information available
* Make a note of all health and life changes since your last appointment
Make Sure You Can Hear and See
* If you you need glasses to see, bring your glasses
* If you have a hearing aid, make sure you wear it to the appointment
* If you require an interpreter (family member or otherwise) talk to them about it ahead of time.
* Side note: having an interpreter is helpful in avoiding misunderstandings of certain words and phrases.
Consider Bringing a Family Member or Friend
* Another can often ask questions that you may not have thought of
* Having another set of ears is helpful because they may have heard information that you missed.
During Your Appointment
* Tell all of your symptoms
* Give the names of all of your medications
* Be truthful about your habits and the frequency of them (smoking, drinking, etc.)
* Bring a notepad and pen/pencil
* Record the appointment so that you can go back and listen to it. Let the doctor know that you are recording
Ask Questions and Discuss Any Diagnosis
* Ask about possible side effects of prescriptions
* Talk about what you can expect – how your diagnosis will physically make you feel, when you should notify a doctor, what steps do you need to now take
* Clarify about any new prescriptions and their instructions
* Get written (or record) information about your treatment plan.
After your appointment do not hesitate to talk to family members about what was said and brought up. If you have any questions, uncertainties, or concerns, call or e-mail your doctor. Remember that the more information you share and the more clarification you get, the better that you and your doctor can jointly and effectively manage your health!