Pella Chronicle

February 7, 2011

Ouder en Wijzer

(Older & Wiser)

Kathi Gross
The Chronicle

Pella — Doctor, I Have A Question!

Have you ever left the doctor’s office with the feeling you’re forgetting something?  As soon as you get in the car, it hits you – a question you had been meaning to ask your doctor all week and it slipped your mind.  Now, you’ll have to call his office and wait for him to call back, or worse, never ask the question at all.  If only you had remembered!

You, the savvy senior, can make the most of doctor’s appointments by coming prepared!  Below are some easy but powerful ways to take charge of your own medical care by planning ahead for doctor’s visits.

Always have your medication list with you.  

Include prescriptions and over-the-counter meds on this list.  This is a good idea at any time, but having it at your doctor’s visit is a must.  My mom always keeps a laminated card with typed or printed medications and doses.  It’s so handy to just pull the card out and show your doctor.  This is especially handy for emergency room visits.  Typing it out or printing carefully can also help with getting names of medications accurate.  If you don’t type or have a computer, ask a family member to do it for you.  I would guess all of your kids or grandkids use a computer and would be glad to help you out.  You can have your card laminated at a local print shop or do it yourself using some clear contact paper or laminating sheets from Wal-Mart.   Oh, and don’t forget to give a copy to a family member and maybe even keep one on top of your refrigerator.  If the ambulance is called to your home, it’s an easy place for the EMT’s to find the information.

Prior to any appointment, seniors should also make a list of their health concerns and jot down any questions they have for the doctor.  

Be specific and don’t be afraid to ask any question, no matter how insignificant you may think it is.  Here are some very important questions to ask yourself before you go to your appointment. Do you have leg pain at night?  Do you have trouble sleeping?  Are you having unsettling dreams?  If so, you need to mention these to your doctor.

Bring a buddy.

 Whether it’s a spouse, a friend, family member or caregiver, a third party can help you keep track of important information and offer support during difficult appointments.  You may be forgetful, hard of hearing, or may struggle in your ability to understand and integrate a lot of the information that will be passing back and forth. Some seniors are too proud to ask the physician to slow down, rephrase what they said or to clarify medical jargon.   You might agree to something you didn’t really understand.  Often, having a third party can be helpful in clarifying information and perhaps offering another perspective.  Have that person take notes or jot down helpful information.

These are just a few simple but important tips for making your doctor’s visit as profitable as possible.  Don’t be afraid to take some initiative in your own medical care.  Your doctor will appreciate it and so will you!

Thanks to Connie Creary, RN MS, Director of Nursing Vriendschap Village, for her contribution to this article.