Seeing a doctor today is not the same as back in the Dr. Welby days – which is not surprising with new medical treatments, increased focus on health outcomes, more doctors retiring than graduating, and longer life spans so there are more of us older folks.
Today communication with your doctor is no longer a one-way street: the doctor giving directions and you following them. Now it is more a partnership, working as a team so you receive the best possible medical care to keep you healthy.
But good communication is critically important and is particularly true for older adults. We often have more serious health conditions and treatments to discuss, affecting more aspects of our lives. If your doctor doesn’t know what you are experiencing, how is she going to treat you effectively. And if you don’t understand the how’s, what’s and why’s of your diagnosis and treatment, how are you going to implement the doctor’s orders.
But how do you make the most of an appointment with your doctor?
In an earlier column, I’ve explained how to prepare for your doctor’s appointment: prioritize a list of your concerns, plan to update your doctor of any health changes, take pertinent information with you such a list of your medications, and consider bringing another set of ears.
But how best can you use the time with your doctor? Here are a few tips provided by the National Institute on Aging.
1.) Be honest. Don’t just say what you want the doctor to hear - that you have been exercising even when you haven’t. Tell it like it is so she will have accurate information for her diagnosis and treatment.
2.) Decide which three or four questions you’ll ask and state them at the beginning of the appointment so they aren’t overlooked.
3.) Stick to the point. I always enjoy the friendly small-town chats. But keep it short and get to the reason you are there by briefly stating your symptoms, when they started, how often they happen and if they are getting worse or better.
4.) Share your feelings about the visit. Tell your doctor if you feel rushed, worried, or uncomfortable. If you are confused, ask your doctor to clarify. If you are worried about your condition, and would like to talk more ask her for more time or schedule another appointment.
Remember the doctor patient relationship is more a partnership these days, and it is important that you ask questions and stay informed about your medical care. And even though the best doctors may not have all the answers to your questions, they still may be able to help you find more information or refer you to a specialist. But if a doctor keeps brushing off your questions and symptoms as simply a part of aging, you might want to look for another doctor.
You can learn more by picking up a copy of the National Institute on Aging’s “A Guide for Older People – Talking with Your Doctor” at the Center or you can go to their website www.nia.nih.gov/health.
I know many of you are not carrying around your daily planner - so that you won’t forget, here is your last-minute reminder. Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 27th at 1:00, Kerry Cobb, executive director of the Columbia Center for the Arts, will be discussing the “Life and Art of Five Famous Female Artists”.
I didn’t receive any correct answers last week although several folks thought it was Burma Shave - known for its rhyming road signs. But the name of the shaving cream popular with soldiers during WWII and packaged in a distinctive red, white and blue stripes design mimicking a barber’s pole was Barbasol.
Billboard magazine ranks this American popular music pianist as the top selling piano recording artist in history with 18 gold and platinum albums to his credit. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the professional name of this entertainer who in 1955 recorded "Autumn Leaves", the only piano instrumental to reach #1 on Billboard's popular music chart, as well as “Born Free” in 1966? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or drop it off with the name of the founder of Rhode Island.
Well, it’s been another week, enjoying the cool mornings. Until we meet again, a complaint is just a wish in disguise.
“If you keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it’s just possible you haven’t grasped the situation.” Jean Kerr, writer