So, You’re Lying to Your Doctor?

First of all, stop that. Secondly, you’re not alone. A study has found that nearly half of all Americans lie to their doctors, everything from omitting information to either downplaying an issue or making it seem worse than it is to boasting about things they don’t actually do. For the record, women apparently lie more than men. Now since the study was conducted online, the results may be suspect but the premise isn’t.

I hear you just fine

No, I don’t smoke

I exercise every day

Those are the top three lies that seniors tell their doctors according to multiple studies and physician reports. Health care teams have a sense that seniors are lying to them because they think nothing can be done, because they don’t want to be judged or because they think it’s the answer the doctor wants to hear. Admitting to smoking and drinking, for instance, could result in a judgement the patient doesn’t want to hear however denials can mean delays in diagnoses or unwanted reactions to prescribed medications.

Lies around the issue of nutrition can be costly in terms of long term health. A senior living alone with some mobility issues may not find getting out to the grocery store an easy task resulting in a poorly stocked pantry. The lack of fresh, healthy food can lead to poor dietary choices, disinterest in food and perhaps missed meals. Once such habits are ingrained, it’s difficult to break them. The other side of the coin could be a senior who confesses to a poor diet and in doing so is led to any number of solutions ranging from Meals on Wheels to grocery store delivery programs, community meals or perhaps cooking for one resources.

So many issues can be easily corrected and result in better quality of life. Hearing is one of the top issues which, when corrected, improves sociability and increases safety.

Of course there are health issues that lead to unwanted diagnoses, poking and prodding, more doctor visits and the fears that independence will be diminished. Science has figured out how to keep us living longer but not necessarily better. As our population ages there will be more and more solutions but the questions each of us need to ask ourselves are what quality of life do we want and are we prepared to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to get it?

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  1. I find if I know there’s something I must tell the doctor at my next appointment, but I don’t want to open that can of worms. Or I’m embarrassed about something. The best bet for me is to write it all down then keep your list in your purse or what ever you take to the doctors, like a book or Kindle in my case. Then just grit your teeth and hand the note over to your doctor, who can then read what you’re concerned about. You’ll find that’s it’s much easier to deal with things that worry you, but you know you should really own up to your doctor.

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