According to the Census Bureau, Americans now visit the doctor less frequently — from nearly five times a year in 2001 to the current rate of four times a year.
An annual doctor’s visit is an important part of staying healthy, especially as you age. A physician can provide preventative services to help avoid minor problems from becoming bigger health issues. If it’s been years since you’ve seen a doctor, it’s probably time to schedule an appointment. Here are five ways to prepare for your visit.
Be Prepared to Share Information
During your doctor’s visit, we’ll ask you specific questions about your overall health and medical history. Be prepared to answer these questions. Make a list of your symptoms, when they began and how often you experience them. Also jot down what time of day you experience symptoms, anything that makes your symptoms feel better or worse and how they affect your quality of life or may prevent you from doing routine tasks. Preparing all this information beforehand will help your doctor properly diagnose you and give you the best medical advice.
Bring Your Medications or Make a List
Also bring a list of your current medications to your doctor’s appointment, or the medications themselves, so your doctor can thoroughly review them. Certain medications can produce severe side effects when used in combination, so it’s important to be honest with your doctor about what medications you take and how often you take them. If you don’t use the medication as prescribed — either more or less often than you should — don’t hesitate to share this information with your doctor. Your doctor can adjust your dosage or assist finding ways to help you get the medication you need at a lower cost through means such as a drug assistance program for seniors.
Bring Important Documentation
Bring copies of your medical records to the appointment. If you don’t have this information when you schedule your appointment, call your previous doctor to have your records transferred to your new physician. Also, don’t forget to bring your insurance card and the names and phone numbers of any other doctors you see.
Bring a Family Member, Friend or Caregiver
Consider bringing someone else to the appointment with you. This person can provide moral support and take detailed notes of everything the doctor said — a great way to ensure you actually follow doctor’s orders.
Too often, patients are nervous to ask questions or are worried about their doctor’s reaction. Don’t be. We’re here to help. We’re human, too, so we understand that dealing with health issues can be challenging.
If you have questions about any information we’ve shared, medication we’ve prescribed or tests we’ve ordered, ask for more details or share your concerns. As doctors, we see patients as our partners in providing them the best care possible, so if you have concerns about a prescribed treatment plan we can discuss it and develop an approach that works best for you based on your medical history, overall health and lifestyle.
Everyone should make the effort to see their doctor at least once a year. An annual wellness visit can help us catch issues before they become more serious and allow us to share advice that may improve your overall health and quality of life. If you’re past due for a visit, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Our staff is here to help.