Communication is always important. Talking with your doctor and other healthcare providers is no exception. However, for some people, it can be pretty uncomfortable to do this.
If you get particularly stressed about medical appointments and tests, take a deep breath, arm yourself with courage, and remember that clear communication with your doctor is well worth your effort.
As we age, we face more conditions that may need professional treatment. Make sure your visit to the doctor goes smoothly by practicing these useful tips:
- Make a list of your concerns and prioritize them.
Lists are always a useful resource. Write whatever worries you and take that list to your appointment so you won’t forget to ask about it. Use the time you get with health professionals to get your questions answered.
- Take information with you.
Your doctor will obviously ask for a lot of information in order to properly make a diagnosis. Make things go a little faster by already bringing a list of all your prescription drugs, over the counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal remedies or supplements, including the dose. Your doctor will appreciate this.
- Consider bringing a family member or friend.
Who doesn’t need a bit of support, right? Don’t go through stressing times alone and ask someone you trust to keep you company during those tiresome waiting periods. Also, other people might be able to come up with relevant questions that you hadn’t thought of.
- Be honest.
One of the last places where keeping up appearances matters, is at the doctor’s. Answer whatever you’re being asked honestly because, besides lab and other medical tests, doctors base their diagnosis on what you report to them.
- Make sure you understand what the doctor says.
Medical jargon will logically come up during your conversation with a doctor. If there’s something about your health problem that seems confusing, you could say something like “What you’re saying is…”or “Just to clarify…” and let the doctor either confirm it or explain it in a simpler way.
- Take notes
Even if you understand everything to perfection, don’t risk it and take some notes. Plus, it’s a helpful way to get clear information.
- Ask questions: about your health, medication, diet, lifestyle, etc.
If your doctor gives you unclear explanations or is particularly quiet, don’t be afraid to ask everything (and even bringing up some issues yourself) that may be relevant to your condition. Doctors are prepared to answer, so ask.
- Get written or recorded materials.
Ask if your doctor has any brochures, factsheets, DVDs, or videotapes about your health conditions or treatments. Chances are, you’ll leave the doctor’s office with well-organized information. If your doctor doesn’t have such materials, ask where you can get them.
- Follow up.
If you are uncertain about the doctor’s instructions after you get home, call or e-mail your doctor. It happens…everything’s crystal clear and, as soon as you get home, you think a bunch of questions you should’ve asked. Don’t hesitate and follow up.
- Take an active role in your health.
Your health will improve if you take an active role in it. A great first step is talking with your doctor.