Doctors are your ally when it comes to your health care. You see them at least once a year for a physical, so make sure you get the most out of your visit. Here are 6 things doctors wish you knew about senior health so you can be prepared at your next exam.
It worries a physician to hear a patient express uncertainty about what they’re taking, or what it’s for. This indicates the patient is not aware of what is going on with their own body or doesn’t have a good grasp on their health conditions. For your safety, you should know how many pills you take daily and how often.
Such unawareness will indicate to a doctor that you’re not taking your medications regularly, even if you say you are. It doesn’t help you to be dishonest in this situation because they won’t be able to accurately determine whether the medicines and their dosages are working.
Be Careful Where You Get Your Health Information
There is abundant information out there on any given topic, but that doesn’t mean it is all accurate. Don’t use the internet to diagnose your condition before you even see a doctor. While information from websites may help you gauge your symptoms and provide education, always let your doctor be the one to provide the final diagnosis.
Although TV health talk shows and infomercials seem sound, they never should be a substitute for an actual visit with your own doctor, who knows your medical history.
Doctor-Patient Relationships Are Key
Doctors can do only so much — they can prescribe medicine or treatment, but they can’t follow through with it for you. Only you can do that, so be sure to follow the health plan they give you. If it doesn’t work or creates negative side effects, let them know.
It’s up to you to be honest with your doctor about the symptoms you’re experiencing and other key issues with your health. Doctor-patient relationships work best with honesty, so they can help you feel your best. The best relationships include the patient and the doctor working together toward preventing, diagnosing and treating illness. Which leads us to the next item …
Don’t Be Embarrassed
They’ve seen it all and are not there to pass judgment. Doctors want to help you overcome sickness and achieve good health. So whether it burns when you urinate, or you have a mole in an odd spot, take comfort in knowing that your doctor will help you determine the best possible treatment without making comments or assumptions about you. Your condition won’t be discussed with anyone else outside the exam room unless the doctor feels it’s necessary to confer with another physician about treatment options. Doctors maintain a professional confidentiality, so unless you discuss it, no one else will know about it.
Avoid the Sun
Living somewhere as sunny as Arizona, this may be a hard thing to do. While sunshine provides the much-needed vitamin D, take caution in how much time you spend in direct sunlight, and wear sunscreen at all times when you’re outdoors. Increased exposure to direct sunlight raises your risk of melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer that can be primarily prevented by staying out of the sun.
They Like When You Bring a Family Member or Friend
While you may feel uncomfortable being examined in front of a family member or friend, they may be beneficial to have around. They can help you take notes on your conversation with your doctor, ask questions you may not have thought of, help you recall instances when you experienced symptoms, or reaffirm your account of a health issue.
If you’re not feeling well, that makes it harder to advocate for yourself. A family member or friend can speak to the doctor on your behalf, but make sure to speak to the doctor and ask questions when you can because no one knows your condition better than you do.
In the end, your doctor only wants good health for you. In an ideal world, a doctor would only see you for a physical. But if an appointment is warranted for an injury or illness, be as prepared as possible and remember that your doctor is there to help you get back on your feet.
Taking control of your health is one of many considerations as you age. If you want to stay in your own home but are not sure what steps to take, our guide Aging in Place: A Popular Trend for a New Generation of Seniors can answer your questions.