For good reasons that are not pertinent to this post, in November I fired my doctor. Five or six weeks later, after an hour with my new primary care physician, I was pleased to feel that I had found someone I can work with and whom I like.
But when I got home, I realized I had not mentioned two or three issues that while far from being critical were still things he should know and that should be in my record.
I was somewhat chagrined since before that first meeting, I had worked for a couple of days to prepare a list of items and had believed I had done a good job. So as soon as I got home, I started a running list in a computer file that I can keep up like a grocery list for the next appointment.
Since then, however, I have found an outstanding online tool from the National Institute of Aging. The NIA is division of the National Institutes of Health which for decades has funded internal and external research into many aspects of growing old.
The external program funds research and training at universities, hospitals, medical centers, and other public and private organizations nationwide. (All this is administered under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services so we will need to keep a sharp eye on its funding and other issues once the new secretary is approved by Congress which, unfortunately, appears to be Georgia Representative Tom Price.)
I've used the NIA's extensive website for a long time but somehow missed the section I'm here to tell you about today titled, Talking to Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People.
It is amazingly thorough and informative with a long list of chapters to help you collaborate with your physician and be a full participant in your care:
”In the past, the doctor typically took the lead and the patient followed. Today, a good patient-doctor relationship is more of a partnership,” states the first sentence of the section.
“You and your doctor can work as a team, along with nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers, to solve your medical problems and keep you healthy.”
There follow such chapters as:
• Choosing a Doctor You Can Talk To
• How Should I Prepare...for an Appointment
• Making Decisions with Your Doctor
• Discussing Sensitive Subjects
And eight more.
Throughout all the the 12 chapters are useful tips – on giving information, for example, on asking questions or providing definitions you might not know like what “board certified” means. And that barely scratches the surface.
The guide was first published in 2010 and updated in April 2016. It is a definitive guide for all things related to visits with your physician(s).
Today, however, I want to show you why I decided to devote an entire post to this guide. The Institute has created a three-part worksheet to fill in before your appointment with prompts that help ensure that you don't forget anything and that you can print to take with you.
The first section asks you to list your concerns.
The second section includes changes since your last visit, your diet, medications and lifestyle; your thoughts and feelings; and everyday living – injuries, daily activists, exercise and more.
The third section asks you to list the details of all the medications you use.
It is incredibly thorough and a professional can skim through the worksheet in a few minutes saving a lot of time that then can be used for face-to-face examination and discussion.
Here is what it looks like:
Although it is titled for elders, I think people of all ages can benefit from this. Here are some of the links you need:
Main page, the starting place
Section on additional resources
If you want a hard copy, you can print out each section or, on the left side of every page is a link to a PDF version that you can save to your computer or print.
Whether you just hang on to the URL, keep an electronic copy on your computer or print it, there are not many instruction manuals in life as good as this 44-page guide.