Preparing for Your Next Doctor’s Visit

With a gradual return to life as we once knew it, many doctors are facing a backlog of patients that are scheduling health check-ups after more than a year of practicing social distancing.  It may be months before patients can get in for a doctor’s visit for routine screenings but don’t delay in making appointments and do plan ahead by writing down any changes in health.  Being prepared before going to see the doctor can improve health outcomes and make the most of the time with your health care provider. 

Older adults should bring a current list of all medications and supplements they are taking and note any pain, sleeping problems, unexplained weight gain or loss, fever, and any noticeable lumps and bumps. Even vitamins, probiotics, laxatives, or eye drops should be included in a list of medications along with any drug reactions or allergies they may have experienced. Don’t have a list template? Check out ours in The Oldish’s Toolkit.

According to the National Institute on Aging, talking openly with your doctor about your lifestyle is the best way to receive the appropriate treatment and care.  Stressful life events like a move or the loss of a loved one can play a role in well-being and it’s important for your doctor to get the full picture of your life – including diet, activities, sex life and if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use cannabis.  Discussing any feelings of loneliness or isolation is also valuable information for doctors as these feelings can increase the risk for developing depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease. 

Older adults considering a move into assisted living can find help and guidance by discussing options with their doctor who may refer their senior patient to a social worker or an agency that helps with the process of finding an appropriate facility.  Your doctor can also provide information about advanced care directives and end-of-life planning. 

Seniors with dementia should be accompanied to appointments by a trusted companion who can help advocate for the patient and provide accurate information.  If language may be a barrier to good communication, patients can bring a translator or ask the office to provide one.  

The average time a doctor waits before interrupting a patient is 18 seconds.  Being prepared for your doctor’s visit with a list of concerns, all medications and all health and life changes since your last appointment will ensure you get the best possible care.