How to prepare for a doctor’s visit

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Whether it’s your first time seeing a new doctor or you’ve been going to the same one for years, coming to your appointment with a game plan can help you make the most of your time there. You and your doctor will be able to discuss anything that needs to be discussed thanks to the advice in this article.

Photo of National Cancer Institute he Unsplash

Make a list of your concerns and prioritize them

Write the topics you want to discuss. For example, are you interested in discussing a recent symptom with your primary care physician? Do you want to be vaccinated against the flu? Are you worried about how a treatment will affect your daily activities? If you want to discuss more than a few different topics, you should list them in order of importance, starting with the one at the top of the list. It’s best not to wait until the end of your appointment to discuss the things that are really bothering you at this point. Get started on it right away! If you have a specific medical condition, consult trusted websites such as can help you determine potential problems.

Take information with you to the doctor

Some doctors recommend that you always carry all of your medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbal remedies, and supplements in a single bag. There are those who recommend keeping a journal in which you record everything you consume and in what quantity. You should also bring your insurance cards, the names and phone numbers of any other doctors you see, and your medical records if the doctor doesn’t already have them.

Consider bringing a family member or friend with you

Sometimes it helps to go with one close family member or friend. Tell your relative or friend in advance what you want to get out of your visit. If you forget what you were supposed to talk to the doctor about, your friend can remind you. She or he can write down what the doctor said and help you remember it.

Don’t let your partner have too much power. You and the doctor are the only ones there. You may want to have some alone time with the doctor to talk about private matters. During or right after the physical exam, if you and the doctor are alone, this may be a good time to talk about personal problems. Or you can ask a friend or family member to wait in the waiting room with you for part of the appointment. For best results, tell your partner in advance how he or she can help you the most.

Keep in touch with your doctor

Tell your doctor what has happened since you last saw him or her. Tell the doctor right away if you went to the emergency room or saw a specialist. Tell them about any changes in your appetite, weight, sleep or energy level. Tell the doctor if any of the medicines you are taking have changed or if they have made you feel different. Use these worksheets to keep track of what to ask your doctor and what information to share.

Make sure you can see and hear as well as possible

Many people over 60 wear glasses or need hearing aids. Don’t forget to bring your glasses to the eye doctor. If you have a hearing aid, put it on and make sure it works well. Tell the doctor and the staff if you cannot see or hear well. For example, you could say, “It’s hard for me to understand everything you say because of my hearing. It really helps if you speak slowly and look at me when you speak.”

Ask for an interpreter if you need help

If the doctor you chose or were sent to does not speak your language, ask the doctor’s office to send an interpreter. Although some English-speaking doctors know basic medical terminology in Spanish or other languages, you may feel more comfortable speaking in your own language, especially when discussing sensitive topics such as sexuality or depression. Call the doctor’s office ahead of time to make sure an interpreter is there.

Always tell the doctor, your interpreter or a member of staff if you do not understand the doctor’s diagnosis or instructions. Don’t let the fact that you don’t speak the language keep you from asking questions or expressing your concerns.

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