Communicating With Your Healthcare Provider

Excerpted  from Optimal Well-Being for Senior Adults II
By Ester R.A. Leutenberg and Kathy A. Khalsa, CPC, OTR/L

Communication with my healthcare provider.

The following is a guide for senior citizens as they prepare to meet with their primary care health care professional. Feel free to distribute it to your clients/participants, or print it out for yourself.

Scheduling enough time with your healthcare provider is sometime difficult. If you have several intricate questions about your health tell the patient representative when you make your appointment that you have issues to discuss with your physician and will need extra time. You are not required to tell the person on the other end of the phone what these issues are. However, if you are speaking with a physician’s assistant or nurse you might want to let them know what your issues are so the doctor can be prepared with the information needed to answer you in full.

Optimal Well-Being For Senior Adults II - Healthcare ProviderHere is a list of things you will need to know for your appointment:

  • What is your primary health care provider’s name?
  • Medications
    • What are they, including over-the-counter supplements?
    • Are you taking them as prescribed? If not, why not?
    • If you aren’t taking them as prescribed, how and when are you taking them?
  • Your chief problem today is:
  • This problem is affecting my daily life in these ways:
  • My questions are:
  • I have been feeling differently since I last saw you in the following ways:
    • Feeling more anxious
    • Feeling more disorganized
    • Being more forgetful
    • Having trouble expressing yourself

Your provider is required to ask you if you feel safe in your daily environment. Be sure to be honest with him or her when you answer this question. You don’t have to be physically abused to feel unsafe. If someone or something is bullying you or scaring you in any way, your doctor can be your first line of defense. Doctors have complete information regarding resources in your community to help you. You are paying for her or his time and interest. Don’t feel your concerns are unimportant.  If you aren’t being heard by your physician, go to family, friends, minister, or social services for help finding a doctor who will listen to your concerns.  . If you are having difficulty with family member(s) arrange to go to the appointment without them. Contact the Salvation Army, local churches, or Social Services if you need help getting to your appointment without your family member taking you there. There are folks who will gladly step up and help, but you have to ask!

Consider bringing a family member or friend to your appointment. You have a right to have them with you when you talk with your physician.  Two folks at the same meeting will hear different things.  It will help to remember what was said after the appointment is over. Go for a post-appointment coffee and write down what you discussed and what solutions were suggested.

Click here to download a printable form to take with you to your appointment.

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