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Seniors' Checklist To Prepare For An Upcoming Doctor Visit

Updated: Apr 23

Regular medical check-ups become increasingly crucial for maintaining good health and managing any existing conditions as we age. Often when our geriatric care management team assesses new elderly clients, we find that they do not always keep up with preventative care appointments and check-ups and, at times, seniors will miss important doctor’s appointments for seemingly non-urgent conditions out of anxiety over a plethora of issues (whether it’s lack of reliable transportation, fear of a bad prognosis, mistrust for the healthcare system, or dread for dealing with insurance companies and red tape). Managing doctor’s visits and following through with instructions and treatment plans are an important part of our work with seniors and we understand that preparing for a doctor's visit can be overwhelming. To ensure a productive and stress-free appointment, here are some valuable tips to consider:


1. Organize Medical Information

Before the appointment, gather all relevant medical records, including a list of current medications, allergies, past surgeries, and any existing health issues. Having this information readily available will not only save time but also help the doctor gain a comprehensive understanding of the senior's health status and history. Consider keeping a dedicated folder or binder specifically for medical records to stay organized and easily accessible.


2. Write Down Questions and Concerns

Encourage seniors to jot down any questions or concerns they have regarding their health. It's easy to forget important details once at the doctor's office, so having a written list ensures that all topics are addressed during the appointment. This can include inquiries about specific symptoms, side effects of medications, or recommendations for preventive care. With some conditions, symptoms can fluctuate, making it so the senior neglects to mention pain or discomfort that were there just a few days before the appointment and subsided on their own, so a list can help with giving the doctor a full picture of what is going on. Additionally, encourage seniors to prioritize their questions to ensure the most critical issues are discussed first.


3. Bring a Trusted Companion

Accompanying the senior to the doctor's visit can provide emotional support and assistance in recalling information discussed during the appointment. This companion could be a family member, friend, or caregiver who is familiar with the senior's medical history and can help advocate for their needs. Having a second set of ears can help ensure that all instructions and recommendations from the doctor are clearly understood. Consider discussing with the senior who they feel most comfortable having accompany them to appointments.


4. Review Insurance Coverage

Familiarize yourself with the senior's insurance coverage to avoid any unexpected costs or issues with billing. Make sure all necessary documentation, such as insurance cards and identification, is brought to the appointment. It's also helpful to be aware of any co-pays or deductibles that may apply to the visit. If there are concerns about insurance coverage or financial constraints, don't hesitate to discuss these with the doctor or their office staff in advance.


5. Arrive Early and Be Prepared to Wait

Plan to arrive at the doctor's office well ahead of the scheduled appointment time to allow for any unexpected delays. This extra time can also be used to complete any required paperwork or update information with the receptionist. Bring along a book, crossword puzzle, or other form of entertainment to pass the time while waiting. Additionally, consider packing a snack or water bottle in case the wait is longer than anticipated, especially if the senior has specific dietary needs or medications that need to be taken with food.


6. Discuss Symptoms Honestly

Encourage seniors to be open and honest with their healthcare provider about any symptoms or changes in health they may be experiencing. Clear communication is essential for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Remind them that doctors are there to help and are trained to address a wide range of health concerns, no matter how minor they may seem. Encourage the senior to describe their symptoms in detail, including when they started, how often they occur, and any factors that seem to worsen or alleviate them.


7. Take Notes

During the appointment, jot down key information, such as the doctor's recommendations, prescribed medications, and follow-up instructions. These notes will serve as a helpful reference after the visit, especially if the senior has difficulty remembering details or if there are multiple healthcare providers involved in their care. Consider using a notebook or electronic device to record information, whichever the senior feels most comfortable with. If there are any terms or instructions that are unclear, don't hesitate to ask the doctor for clarification.


8. Follow Through with Recommendations

Ensure that seniors understand and agree to any treatment plans or lifestyle changes recommended by the doctor. It's essential to follow through with these recommendations to promote optimal health and well-being. This may include taking prescribed medications as directed, attending follow-up appointments, making dietary or exercise modifications, or seeking additional medical care from specialists or therapists. If there are concerns about adhering to a treatment plan, such as difficulty affording medications or transportation issues, discuss these with the doctor to explore potential solutions or alternatives.


9. Schedule Follow-Up Appointments

Before leaving the doctor's office, schedule any necessary follow-up appointments or tests. Staying proactive about healthcare management is crucial for maintaining overall wellness. Write down the date, time, and purpose of each follow-up appointment to avoid any confusion or missed appointments. If there are scheduling conflicts or concerns about attending appointments, communicate these with the doctor's office as soon as possible to reschedule or make alternative arrangements.


10. Seek Support if Needed

If the senior requires additional assistance or resources, don't hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals, community organizations, or support groups for guidance and support. Many communities offer programs and services specifically designed to assist seniors with healthcare navigation, transportation, financial assistance, and emotional support.


Working with a geriatric care management team you can trust (like Senior Steps!) can take so much of the preparation off your and your elderly loved one’s plate. In addition to all the logistical work a care manager provides, like arranging transportation, coordinating between multiple specialists, and picking up medications, a geriatric care manager’s presence can make a world of difference in the quality of treatment a senior receives through expert advocacy.


If you would like to learn more about our work and how we can help you or a senior loved one, you can request a no-cost consultation call through our webpage:

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