Making the best use of your doctor

Going to the doctor can be daunting. A few questions to ponder: Do you always feel that you are going to get bad news? Why do you need to go and when? Should you take someone else with you? What choices do you have?

Your doctor and other health care professionals are just means to an end that you can use to your satisfaction. It is up to the user to decide how, when, where and why they will be used. Of course the patient or client will recognise that their practitioner is an expert and has much valuable knowledge and experience to impart. So how will you get the most out of your consultation? A few tips on the best way!

You and your doctor can form a powerful partnership to ensure your best health and wellbeing no matter what the medical problems. Most people as they age have a number of health issues that need to be monitored. These could include blood pressure, arthritis, strokes, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and others. Your doctor can support you in managing your own care through home services, physiotherapy, medications, lifestyle advice and psychological help. In these cases it is better to keep on top of things by having a good relationship with your doctor and regular appointments rather than waiting for an emergency.

Sometimes it is fitting to have someone with you as you attend your doctor. You can ask questions and the other person can listen also to the answers. Of course the choice is yours.

There’s also choice about the health practitioner you might want to see. Ask yourself about the qualities you might want in a doctor. Things like availability, accessibility, sharing information, listening skills, physical examination, referral for another opinion if needed, and support in managing health problems.

Before attending the appointment think about writing a list of the topics or symptoms you want to discuss and then tell your doctor you have one and you’ll have to refer to it so you don’t forget anything. It’s a good idea to take a list of your medications with you also and if you have other health practitioners like physios or specialists, make sure they have sent their notes to your GP.

Remember that you are all partners in this business of your health care. Good health care contains elements of health promotion and preventive health as well as care of acute illnesses. As we age we are more likely to suffer from chronic health problems and this means we should be reviewing our medical and health problems regularly. It means we need to see the right health professional for the problem and that it is your choice. This might be a doctor, nurse, dietitian, psychologist or others. It’s also likely that your health professional will suggest some non-medical treatments and activities that are important to your general health and wellbeing. These might include exercise, diet or social activities.

Learn more about how to make the best use of your doctor in Episode 8 of The Better Ageing Podcast:

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