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Improving Doctor-Patient Communication

With the many effects of advanced age on the body, most seniors are no stranger to the doctor’s office. And while doctors are certainly one of, if not the best, source for healthcare and advice, they’re only human, and can only be as effective at treatment as their patients allow them to be. Good communication is the bedrock of any effective partnership or team, and one should consider themselves and their doctor to be a team where healthcare is concerned.

There are many reasons seniors might be disinclined to question their doctors, or share all of their concerns during a visit. From growing up in a time when doctors were unquestionable authorities, to sensory issues making hearing and speaking difficult, or diseases affecting mental status like Alzheimer’s or dementia, seniors might feel rushed through a doctor’s appointment and come out the other end unsatisfied or feeling unheard.

Seniors can prepare for their visits in a number of ways to ensure a more effective outcome. The easiest step to take is writing out and bringing along a complete medical history. Independent seniors can do this themselves, or be helped by a family member or caregiver. Write out your past diagnoses, current health issues, past surgeries, any allergies, and all medications past and current.

A list of questions and concerns should be written out beforehand. What are the issues bringing you to the doctor, what questions do you have about them, etc. A pen and paper to take notes with during the visit is also a great idea to bring with you.