Whether visiting a primary care physician for an annual check-up or a specialist to evaluate a more complex problem, preparation is important so that questions and concerns can be addressed. Here are some tips of what to do before an appointment:
- Write it down. It is sometimes hard to remember everything that needs to be discussed during an appointment and all of the questions that someone might have. It might be beneficial to start writing down what has been working well and what has been concerning. The National Institute on Aging has a worksheet to help prioritize what needs to be discussed. It also has a more comprehensive worksheet for recording changes to health.
- Have medications handy. When doctors are analyzing symptoms and treatment options, they might like to know how the body may be responding to different medications, vitamins and other supplements. They may also consider adjusting doses during the appointment or switching to a new medicine if current therapies aren’t working. Therefore, it is important to have a list or bring the actual bottles to the appointment. The National Institute on Aging also has a helpful worksheet for keeping track.
- Consider bringing another person. Sometimes the amount of information a doctor provides during an appointment can feel overwhelming. Another person, such as a family member or a friend, can not only provide support but may also be able to help remember what was discussed.
- Ask for any instructions from the medical practice when confirming the appointment. Make sure to know whether or not fasting or any other physical preparation is required for tests or other treatments that may be performed.
- Additional resources, such as a roadmap from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, may also be helpful.
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