Medical appointments are pretty short these days. Before you know it, the visit is over and you’re out the door. Time can run out before your most important issues or concerns are addressed.
The National Institute on Aging has suggestions to make the most your doctor’s visit.
First, make a list of your concerns and prioritize them. This is the best way to maximize the limited and valuable time you have with your health care provider and ensures you will remember everything you want to discuss. Use bullet points with the most important item at the top and try to stay focused, which can be hard in that environment. Most of all, don’t put off the things that are really bothering you until the end of your appointment — bring them up first.
Bring information about any drugs you are taking, either written down legibly with the dosage included or grab a bag and put all your medications in it. This includes the prescriptions you take, as well as over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal remedies or supplements. Sometimes the visual of seeing a bag full of various medications can be striking for a provider.
However, don’t bring any medication that requires refrigeration; instead, write the name and dosage down and put the paper in the bag so you don’t forget it. This is also a good time to check the bottles for refills.
Don’t forget your insurance cards and names, contact information and medical reasons for any other doctors you see.
If you have trouble seeing or hearing, let the staff and doctor know. If you have glasses for reading, bring them and be sure any hearing aids are in good working order. Everyone is rushed, so simply saying, “My hearing makes it hard to understand everything you’re saying. It helps a lot when you speak slowly,” can make a big difference in your comprehension.
Lastly, consider bringing a family member or friend. Two heads are better than one and your buddy can take notes for you to review later. This is your time, short though it is. Make the most of it. Log on to www.nia.nih.gov for more information.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.