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Planning and Companionship Can Help Seniors at the Doctor’s

It’s important that someone go with you to a doctor appointment to assist in your communication with a medical professional, especially if you have hearing difficulties.

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Good Doctor-Patient Relationships Vital to Seniors’ Health

Seniors who have no one to accompany them to the doctor can be at a real disadvantage, especially if they are hard of hearing. Consider enlisting the help of a friend or professional CAREGiverSM if Mom or Dad needs to go to the doctor and you can’t be there.

Q.Since my wife died last year, I’ll be going to the doctor alone for my annual physical this year. I’m nervous and don’t know what to ask. And, at age 78, I’m hard of hearing. Do you have any suggestions?

Because of your hearing difficulties, it’s important that someone go with you to a doctor appointment to assist in your communication with a medical professional. That individual can help you understand what the doctor is saying if you can’t hear his/her comments and instructions. If you have no family or close friends nearby, consider the services of a caregiving organization such as the local Home Instead® office. CAREGiversSM are screened, trained, bonded and insured, and equipped to accompany a senior to a doctor’s appointment.

We also thought you might find the following information helpful. U.S. Preventive Medicine, a private company that works with hospital and physicians groups, released tips to help consumers get the most from their annual physicals:

Prioritize and verbalize personal concerns and goals. Before you go to the visit, identify all of your concerns and what you expect, and write those down.

Review family medical history. Many diseases are hereditary. Make sure you know your family history and provide a detailed outline to the doctor.

Get an examination the old-fashioned way. A thorough physical must include a thorough examination, no matter how uncomfortable, for early detection and prevention.

Find out about metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and is easily diagnosed through a cholesterol or lipid profile, blood glucose (sugar), blood pressure readings and measurement of waist circumference.  Metabolic syndrome is not routinely addressed by many doctors during a physical. Take the initiative and ask if you should be assessed.

Ask about screening for chronic diseases. Early detection leads to improved prognosis for many of the most common chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Talk to your doctor about a schedule of recommended preventive screenings.

A good relationship with your doctor’s office also is important to good health. Consider the following from the Home Instead network and the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP):

  • Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are already taking. This includes prescription medicines and the medicines you buy without a prescription, such as aspirin, laxatives, vitamin supplements, and home remedies. It’s helpful to take along a written list or go to and fill out a medication tracker form to take along.
  • Tell your doctor what is important to you about your medicines. You may want a medicine with fewest side effects, or fewest doses to take each day. If you have trouble swallowing, you may want a liquid form of medicine. You may care most about cost (there may be a generic drug or another lower-cost medicine you can take), or you may want the medicine your doctor believes will work best.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any allergies to medications or if you have had any troubling side effects from medicines.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any illnesses or problems for which another doctor or health professional is treating you.
  • Tell your doctor if you are not taking your medicine as directed. For example, some people may stop taking their medicine, take a lower dose, or skip doses if they are having side effects. Your doctor needs to know about any changes in your treatment plan. Do not let guilty feelings or embarrassment keep you from telling your doctor this important information.

For more information and other resources to help prepare for an emergency, visit

Last revised: July 19, 2011

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