The National Institute on Aging has developed “A Guide for Older People, Talking with Your Doctor”. Recently I had a chance to introduce this Guide to one of our clients and worked with him in navigating his wife’s health care issues. My client has had little contact with the medical system during the course of his life. Now that is wife is ill, he is at sea with caregiving and his wife’s health issues. Together we found the Guide to be very helpful in both choosing a doctor that he could talk to and in getting ready for the appointment.
The Guide contains basic issues and tips on what one needs to know in looking for a doctor, such as: Is the doctor taking new patients? Is the doctor covered by the client’s insurance plan? Does the doctor accept Medicare?
Additionally, the Guide recommends looking at the qualifications and characteristics of the doctor. Is the doctor Board certified? In what field? Is it more beneficial if the doctor is in a group practice or is working as an individual? To which hospital(s) does the doctor admit patients?
Other topics that the Guide covers are: How to prepare for the appointment. The give and take of information with the doctor. Making good use of the time with the doctor. Understanding prescriptions.
There are also worksheets that one can utilize such as changes in life status since the last appointment. This is helpful because it can be difficult to remember the day-to-day things that happen. With the list in hand when next talking to the doctor, the record that has been kept will facilitate discussion. There is also a medication worksheet and a space to note concerns that need to be addressed at the next meeting.
As my client and I worked through the Guide, I found that he was better equipped to help his wife and he was not as overwhelmed with his caregiving role.
“A Guide for Older People, Talking with Your Doctor” can be ordered free by contacting the National Institute on Aging Information Center at 1-800-222-2225 or by ordering online at www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation.