By Suzanne Dumaresq
Article originally appeared in Thrive magazine
Maybe you feel fantastic and you appreciate your good health. Maybe you’re ill, not feeling quite right and you’re in search of some answers. Either way, your appointment is on the calendar and right around the corner. In the past, you tended to “wing it.” However, now that you’re older — and wiser — you understand the importance of being prepared and making the most of the visit with your provider.
No matter how old you are, it’s important to cultivate and maintain a relationship with your provider. Especially as you age, your need for care changes. Here are a few simple steps to help you take an active role in your appointment.
Don’t wait until you’re sitting in the waiting room. Take the time to prepare a list of medications and the doses you’re taking – include supplements and vitamins, jot down any symptoms you’re having or specific questions you’d like to ask. And, of course, be ready to discuss your medical history.
Be forthcoming about what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. The more insight and information you provide about your history and what you’re experiencing, the better position your provider is in to advise, treat and care for you.
Remember, your goal is to have a collaborative, productive visit. Be an active participant. Don’t hesitate to interact with your provider. Ask questions or voice concerns as they come up during your visit. Write down responses and suggestions as you get them to refer back to later.
Ask for a Referral
Some symptoms may require evaluation by a specialist. Typically, providers welcome this type of collaboration and are happy to refer patients to an appropriate specialist for further evaluation.
Recap Your Visit
Before departing the provider’s office, spend a few moments with your doctor recapping your visit. Make sure the two of you are on the same page in regard to a referral, diagnosis, medications, treatment, next steps and follow-up.
These five simple steps also apply to a virtual health visit, which became a more popular option during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are scheduling time with your provider virtually, you’ll need to take one additional step — be sure you test the conferencing or video technology you plan to use prior to your visit.