Doctor-patient communication is vital to good medical care. But some older adults might find keeping the lines open is difficult. Perhaps they have difficulty hearing. Maybe they forget to tell the doctor about symptoms or other medication they take.
However, with a few minor adjustments, seniors can make the most out of their medical appointments.
* Take with you a written list of questions, concerns or symptoms that you’d like to discuss with your doctor.
* Make sure your doctor knows what medications, vitamins and nutritional supplements your taking. Either bring them in a bag or make a list.
* Tell your doctor about other medical professionals you see.
* Give all your doctors copies of any advanced care directives, such as a living will, DNR and a document naming a healthcare surrogate to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated. (If you’d like more information on advanced care directives, contact one of our care managers.)
* Ask questions. If you don’t understand what your doctor is telling you, ask for more explanation.
* If you think you’ll have trouble remembering what the doctor said, ask the doctor if you can record the conversation.
* If you need support or more assistance, bring a trusted family member or friend. Tell them what you want to accomplish with the appointment, so that they can help you remember.
If you are the caregiver for an older adult, you might find yourself communicating with healthcare professionals on the senior’s behalf. Many of the same tips above apply, but you’ll also want to make sure that you are included in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act contract. The addition of your name will allow the medical staff to communicate with you about the older adult’s care.
Going to the doctor is rarely fun, but a little preparation will make the most of your time in the exam room.