Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seeing the Doctor

Senior Thursday

When we are born, our parents take us to the doctor every few months to check our growth progress and immunize us.  This continues throughout our school years.  Then as we reach adulthood, we seem to avoid the doctor as much as possible.  It's only when we start to age, and get more ailments, that we seek the doctor's advice again.

Going to the doctor can be easy or stressful, depending upon your health.  Regular check-ups for screenings can be easy.  But if you have conditions that require medication or treatment, the visits can become tiresome.  And if you have several conditions, as seniors often do, the complications that can arise from multiple illnesses can become life-threatening.  This is why it is so important for a person's care (senior or otherwise) to be coordinated amongst your caregivers.  In order to do that, each caregiver must be informed of your progress at each visit. 

So how do you do that?  First of all, every physician you see should know about all your conditions and all your other physicians even if they are not treating you for that condition.   They at least need to know about other medical conditions and prescriptions that may affect the condition for which they are treating you.

When you go to the doctor, be prepared.  Bring a list of all your current medications, including their names, strengths and doses.  Record and report any side effects you are experiencing. 

If you are experiencing symptoms with your illness, write them down, along with the frequency, and report them to the doctor.  Write down any questions you have for the doctor BEFORE you go.  It seems we always forget something if it's not written down.  If you don't understand something the doctor tells you, ask for clarification, or to explain in layman's terms. 

Consider bringing a family member or friend along who can help remember or write down all these things for you.  Sometimes the visit is too stressful (depending upon the condition) so you don't have the mental faculties to write it down yourself.

Finally, before you leave his/her office, review any directions or follow-up that is required.  If you need a new prescription, don't leave without it.  If you need surgery, get the name and phone number of the surgeon.  If you need to change your diet or exercise, review that also.  A good physician will take the time to go over all this with you to keep you at your healthiest.

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