Preparing Seniors for Doctor Visits
Aging involves changes in health, physical ability, and medical risks. On average, older
adults in the US tend to be in a healthcare setting about 17 days a year. Given how
common (and often necessary) it is for seniors to interact with doctors, it is important for
caregivers to help seniors navigate doctor visits well.
For many seniors, doctor’s visits are stressful. Caregivers, use this checklist to help ease anxiety.
- Arrange transportation to and from appointments.
- Identify whether or not a companion is necessary for the visit.
- Check if the appointment or associated tests require seniors to contact their insurance company ahead of time for pre-certification or other purposes.
Pack everything needed for a successful appointment:
- Insurance cards
- Photo ID
- Payment for co-pays or other charges
- Contact information for other doctors
- List of current medications
- List of allergies/medical conditions
- Medical records, if needed
- A list of questions for the doctor
- A notepad or device for notetaking
- If further testing or labs are required
- When new prescriptions should be picked up
- If there are instructions or treatment notes seniors can take home with them
- When follow-up appointments are scheduled
- If any payment is due
How to Help Seniors Advocate for Themselves:
Often, seniors feel nervous or powerless when in healthcare settings. Caregivers, encourage seniors to attend their appointments confidently and to speak up for themselves. Remind seniors to:
- Bring glasses or hearing aids if necessary to support effective communication
- Prepare to share what has been going on in their lives and to ask questions
- Ask for directions, diagnoses, and notes about the appointment in writing
- Get a second opinion if they are uncomfortable or unsure of something a doctor says
- Take a family member or close friend for support if self-advocacy is challenging for them (NIA)
Home Care Tip
Help seniors who are active online to understand that the Web does not have a medical degree. While medical information can be helpful to reference and understand more about health, only professionals with education and training should make diagnoses and prescribe treatments.