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“The Talk”

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I hope this year brings you all good health, happiness and harmony in your lives. In this New Year I would like you to consider having “The Talk” with your health care provider. No, not “that” talk (surely you’ve figured that out by now?) but an honest and open discussion with them about your health.

Patients generally feel uncomfortable talking with their providers. Asking questions, requesting results of tests and having them explained, and letting them know of your concerns can be difficult. Depending on your age, this is also a cultural behavior that was instilled by society at the time. In today’s world a good provider-patient relationship is more of a partnership.

Prior to your appointment this year gather a few key pieces of information to make the visit a success:

Write out a complete list of your medications, which includes supplements and vitamins. This includes the dosages and how many times a day you take it.

Make sure that you can hear and see your provider well and understand the instructions. I encourage patients to take someone along with them that can write notes or provide a second set of ears.

Do you have concerns that have popped up since your last visit? Write these down to discuss, and ask questions.

Have you been to the Emergency Department, a specialist, or another provider? Write these visits down and share them with your provider.

If it has been a while since you have seen your provider, ask the receptionist to schedule a little more time for you when you make the appointment.

Talking to your provider about your health can feel intimidating. It means that you are sharing information about your physical, mental, and emotional state.  Please be honest-don’t tell them what you think they want to hear (you stopped smoking, “everything is fine,” your blood sugars are great). If you don’t share what is really happening, they can’t work with you effectively. During your visit discuss your concerns. Ask about options, risks, benefits, and potential for prevention.

Good health depends on the partnership you have with your providers. This includes your doctor/nurse practitioner/physician assistant, pharmacist, nurse, and any therapists. You can make the most of your visits by being informed. Sources of healthcare information include the Internet, national organizations or associations, libraries, and institutes.  The National Institute on Aging at 1-800-222-2225 (TTY 1-800-222-4225) and the National Institute of Health (www.nih.gov) are very helpful. You can also pick up a copy of Talking With Your Doctor, A Guide for Older People at our local Senior Information and Assistance office in Raymond.

 

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on www.hometowndebate.com 12/30/12. If you would like to respond to this story go to hometowndebate.com

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