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How to Have a Successful Doctor’s Visit for Seniors

Updated on March 15, 2017
Allie Brito profile image

I'm a grad student at Michigan State University, studying rehabilitation counseling. My goal is to help care for our aging population.

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As we age, it becomes even more crucial that we get to the doctor every year for a checkup and any extra exams you may need (such as colonoscopies, mammograms, and blood work). Before you go, make sure you are ready and can get and keep new information that your doctor may have for you. Here is a handy checklist:

1) If this is the first time you are visiting your doctor, or are visiting a new one, get your paperwork ready for your visit! You need your insurance cards, past medical records (if you have them), and any mobility assistance you need to get there ready to go. Our suggestion is to keep copies of your paperwork in a folder, on the fridge, by the door, or in a safe, visible, memorable place so you can grab it and go before your appointment!

2) Put your appointment on the calendar in big, visible letters or in a planner so you won’t forget. If you are having memory trouble, have a family member or trusted friend help you remember and give you a call.

3) If you are having any new pain, vision or hearing loss, or anything you want to discuss with your doctor, write it down in advance and keep it with your records to go. Keep a list of questions to ask in case you receive new information, such as:

  • What work will I need done today? – You should expect blood work to be done to determine various counts, like cholesterol, thyroid, blood sugar, and B-12.
  • Do I have a new diagnosis? If so, what is the name and spelling
  • Do I need a new prescription? If so, what is the dosage and what are possible side effects?
  • Do I need a follow up appointment with a specialist for any issue?
  • Will my insurance cover new prescriptions or specialists, and if they don’t, are there alternatives?

4) We recommend you bring a trusted family member or friend to be a designated listener – someone who can write down the details of your appointment such as suggested lifestyle changes, new medications or dosage changes. You can make sure, especially if this person is a spouse or one of your grown children, you sign a HIPAA form for your loved one so they can keep up with your medical information on your behalf.

5) If no one is available to go, bring a recording device you’re comfortable using, such as an iPhone or a tape player, and record what the doctor is saying. That way, if you don’t remember something, you can refer back to the recording.

6) Keep the answers on paper and keep them with your records. If you are going to multiple doctors, you may need the information handy to give your other healthcare providers, such as specialists. That way, you can have important information handy for them, and you can keep information from them handy for you!

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