Doctor’s appointments are often stressful for senior adults, many of whom are managing multiple chronic illnesses and their associated medications and treatments. Being treated by their primary care physician, specialists, and therapists can result in a confusing mix of multiple appointments and medical jargon for people at any age.
The best way to combat the confusion is to be prepared in advance and know what resources are available. Below is a checklist to help seniors and their families and caregivers plan for a doctor’s visit, so that they can come away with a clear understanding of what they need to do and who can help them sort through it all.
Before the Visit
A family member or caregiver should plan to attend to serve as another pair of ears and to bring up subjects that may slip your mind.
Prior to your visit, you and your family member or caregiver should discuss what you want to accomplish during the appointment. Write down questions to ask the physician, as well as any new information that needs to be shared, including physical or cognitive changes since the last visit.
A couple of days before the visit, check your notes or confirm with the doctor’s office whether or not you need to prepare for the appointment. Example: Do you need to fast? Will the physician require a urine sample?
If this is your first appointment with this physician, make sure the office has your medical records. Remember to bring a current list of prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements that you are taking, as well as your health history. Also, remember your insurance card and Medicare card (check with the physician’s office prior to the visit to confirm they accept Medicare if you plan to use it for coverage).
Have the physician’s office phone number with you in case you are delayed during your drive to the office or if you need to ask for directions. Also, give yourself plenty of time for the drive, parking, and making your way to the office.
Bring paper and pen to take notes, and or a digital recorder to refer to later.
During the Visit
Don’t feel rushed. Ask all the questions you planned to ask and others that may come up during the visit. If you don’t understand the doctor’s instructions, ask him or her to clarify the information.
Ask for written instructions from the doctor at the end of the visit. Make sure you take any new prescription forms with you.
Ask how you will receive test results. If the physician practice uses electronic health records, information may be available online about test results or instructions the doctor has provided.
Record all information about follow-up visits, referrals, or tests the doctor recommends. Make sure you and the caregiver clearly understand what you need to do.
After the Visit
Review your notes concerning the visit with your caregiver. Do you both agree on what the doctor said, or is there some things that need further explanation from the physician’s office?
When you fully understand what you need to do, don’t delay in implementing the instructions and recommendations you received.
Record the results of the visit and keep it in a file for future reference.
If you have a future appointment, be sure to note it on your calendar.
Need Extra Help to Prepare for a Doctor’s Appointment?
If all this seems rather daunting, other resources are available to help manage the health and needs of seniors.
Bethesda Senior Support Solutions offers a customized set of in-home services to seniors and their families. In addition to helping with bathing, meal planning and preparation, and specialized programs which offer medication management, staff can escort patients to their doctor’s appointments and take notes during the visit.
After the appointment, Bethesda Care Management team professionals can assist seniors and their families in evaluating senior’s needs, including current healthcare needs now and in the future.
Managing all of this information can be overwhelming to seniors or their family caregivers. Bethesda’s Care Management program can ensure that your senior loved ones are receiving the best possible care. Contact us to learn more about this service for you or a friend.