Clare Oaks Blog
Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2016
By: Clare Connection
8 ways to get more out of your next doctor visit
The days of visiting with your family doctor for 45 minutes are long gone. These days, doctors and other health care professionals are so busy that they don’t have much time to listen to your concerns about your health.
According to a new infographic from the National Institute on Aging, you have only 18 seconds to talk—that’s the average time a doctor waits before interrupting a patient.
But communication is a vital part of getting good health care. You want to convey your health concerns, and you want to make sure you understand what your doctor tells you.
Many of us find it difficult to talk to our doctors, because we were brought up to respect them as authority figures. But times have changed, and today’s health care works best when you and your doctor work together.
To get the best results from your next visit and establish a good relationship with your doctor, physician assistant, pharmacist or other health care provider, try using these eight tactics to improve communication:
- Be prepared. If you have particular concerns about a medication you’re taking or a new symptom you want to ask about, write them down in order of importance. If you hand him or her a written list, your doctor can scan it and focus on discussing your concerns and answering your questions.
- Track your symptoms. Include on your list a brief description of the symptom, when it started, how often it happens and whether it’s getting worse or better. Inform your doctor about any lifestyle conditions or changes that might influence your health.
- Bring a list of all the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbal remedies and supplements you take, along with how often you take them and the dosage. Be sure you also have required documents such as insurance cards. It’s helpful to provide the names and phone numbers of any other health care professionals you see.
- If you don’t understand, ask. Make sure you’re clear on any new instructions the doctor gives you. If you’re confused, ask him or her to clarify anything you’re being asked to do. It’s also fine to ask about side effects of any new prescriptions you’ll be taking, request information on a test that is prescribed and talk about your diagnosis and what you can expect.
- Ask about alternatives. If your doctor recommends a treatment that makes you uncomfortable, ask about the pros and cons of the treatment and whether there are any other procedures that will work. You and the doctor should be partners in developing a treatment plan. Most providers will work with you to find one that’s acceptable and effective.
- If you feel rushed, say so. A guide to talking with your doctor from the National Institute on Aging suggests expressing these feelings in a positive way, such as saying, “I know you have a lot of patients to see, but I’m really worried about this. I’d feel much better if we could talk about it a little more.”
- Overcome discomfort about sensitive subjects. It may not always be comfortable to talk about depression, memory problems or sexuality with your doctor, but you should make the effort. A good doctor will take your concerns seriously.
- Be honest. Your doctor is not a detective. It’s up to you to mention your symptoms and concerns, and that includes not getting your questions answered or having to wait too long for an appointment. These things won’t get addressed unless you bring them up.
Ideally, your health appointment is a two-way street, with you and your doctor acting together to promote wellness. It’s your health, so take an active role.
For more information about talking with your doctor, along with a convenient set of worksheets you can use as an agenda for discussion, please refer to the National Institute on Aging’s detailed brochure on talking with your doctor.
Here at Clare Oaks, a continuing care retirement community, we know that good health depends on a healthy lifestyle. Our wellness center, cultural arts programs and fresh, locally-focused cuisine are all part of remaining as independent as possible. Our residents have an extra measure of peace of mind, because they know their future health care needs are provided for through a continuing care program.
If you’d like more information about this warm, friendly retirement community, please call us at 630-372-1946 or contact us by email.