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Bring insurance cards, names and phone numbers of your other doctors, and the phone number of the pharmacy you use. Also, bring your medical records if your doctor does not have them.
Creating a plan before you go to the doctor can help you make the most of your visit. You should include in this visit plan a complete list of your symptoms, medications, habits, any assistive devices you may use, and life changes.
As you get older, it becomes even more important to talk often and comfortably with your doctor. One reason is you may have more health problems and treatments to discuss. It’s also because your health can have a big impact on other parts of your life, and that needs to be talked about too.
Rank your list of concerns and questions by importance and talk about the most important items first. If you put off talking about the items that are bothering you most, you may run out of time to talk about them during the visit. Afterwards, if you have time, you can talk about the other things on your list.Another way to make the best use of your time is to use your visit plan to stick to the point. Your doctor may not have a lot of time to talk with you. Therefore, it is important for you to stay focused on what you planned to talk about. For example, give a brief summary of what is bothering you most, when the symptom started, how often it happens, and if it is getting worse or better.
Your description should include what the symptom is, when it started, when it occurs, how long it lasts, how often you have it, and anything that makes it worse or better. Try to be as specific as possible.
Your doctor needs to know about all the medications you take, even if you do not take them all the time. These medications include prescription drugs, over-the-counter (non-prescription) drugs, vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements, laxatives, and eye drops. Make sure your doctor knows how much you take and how often you take each medication.
Tell your doctor about where you live, if you drive or how you get around, your eating habits, how you sleep, what you do each day, what activities you enjoy, what your sex life is like, and if you smoke or drink alcohol.
Yes. Be sure to let your doctor know if you use any assistive devices to help you in your daily activities. Assistive devices can help you see, hear, stand, reach, balance, grasp items, go up or down stairs, and move around. Devices used by older adults may include canes, walkers, scooters, hearing aids, reachers, grab bars, and stair lifts.
Tell your doctor if something has happened in your life that has caused you stress or sadness, because these things can have an effect on your health. Examples of life changes include divorce, death of a loved one, or changing where you live.
10. Besides my health problems, what are some other topics that I may want to talk to my doctor about?
It is important for you to discuss sensitive topics with your doctor because they may affect your health. These personal matters may include problems with alcohol, fear of falling, problems driving, depression, sexuality, sexually transmitted disease prevention, incontinence, memory loss, family problems, and unhappiness with your doctor.
Yes. Talk to your doctor about things you can do to prevent disease and improve your health. It is never too late to stop smoking, eat healthier foods, or start exercising.
Sometimes it can be helpful to bring a family member or friend to your doctor visit. The person can help remind you about what you want to talk about with your doctor and can take notes to help you remember what your doctor says. If you bring someone to your doctor visit, you can still have time alone with your doctor to talk about personal matters.
13. If, after my doctor visit, I have questions about medications prescribed for me, is there someone I can talk to besides my doctor?
Yes. Your pharmacist can help answer your questions about medications, including what the label on the medicine bottle means and what are common side effects. It may be helpful to get all your prescriptions from the same pharmacy so they have a complete record of what you are taking. Your pharmacist can check to see if there are any medications that should not be taken together.
There are different reasons why you may need a medical test. Sometimes a doctor does a test, such as taking your blood or giving you an x-ray, to find out what is wrong or to learn more about your health condition. Some tests, like cancer screenings, are done regularly to check for hidden medical problems.
15. How can I let my doctor, family members, and friends know my decisions about my care should I become very ill?
You can record your decisions about your future health care in documents called advance directives, such as a living will or healthcare proxy. A living will includes your decisions about medical treatment at the end of life. A healthcare proxy allows you to pick a person or persons who you trust to make health decisions for you if you cannot. A healthcare proxy also states what care you want if you become too sick to talk about it. Often, your doctor can help you think about advance directives.