Preparing Seniors For Doctor Visits
Aging involves changes in health, physical ability, and medical risks. On average, older adults in the US tend to be in a healthcare setting about 17 days a year. Given how common (and often necessary) it is for seniors to interact with doctors, it is important for caregivers to help seniors navigate doctor visits well.
For many seniors, doctor’s visits are stressful. Caregivers, use this checklist to help ease anxiety.
Arrange transportation to and from appointments.
Identify whether or not a companion is necessary for the visit.
Check if the appointment or associated tests require seniors to contact their insurance company ahead of time for pre-certification or other purposes.
Pack Everything Needed For A Successful Appointment:
Payment for co-pays or other charges
Contact information for other doctors
List of current medications
List of allergies/medical conditions
Medical records, if needed
A list of questions for the doctor
A notepad or device for notetaking
Verify At Checkout After The Appointment:
If further testing or labs are required
When new prescriptions should be picked up
If there are instructions or treatment notes seniors can take home with them
When follow-up appointments are scheduled
If any payment is due
How To Help Seniors Advocate For Themselves:
Often, seniors feel nervous or powerless when in healthcare settings. Caregivers, encourage seniors to attend their appointments confidently and to speak up for themselves. Remind seniors to:
Bring glasses or hearing aids if necessary to support effective communication
Prepare to share what has been going on in their lives and to ask questions
Ask for directions, diagnoses, and notes about the appointment in writing
Get a second opinion if they are uncomfortable or unsure of something a doctor says
Take a family member or close friend for support if self-advocacy is challenging for them (NIA)
Home Care Tip
Help seniors who are active online to understand that the Web does not have a medical degree. While medical information can be helpful to reference and understand more about health, only professionals with education and training should make diagnoses and prescribe treatments.