A Healthy Conversation: Questions Seniors Need to Ask
Our bodies are continually changing as we age and our medical needs change as well. That’s why it is critical to maintain regular communication with a primary care physician.
Don’t be afraid to ask for your doctor’s advice and expertise. What seems like a small thing could actually be a precursor to something more serious. Or, your doctor may reassure you that what you are experiencing is perfectly normal.
Here are eight questions you can ask your provider:
- I am noticing changes, should I be concerned? If you have noticed recent changes in appetite, weight, memory, vision or balance, let your doctor know. Stay in tune with any changes in your body such as skin discoloration, lack of energy or change in sleep patterns. Joint pain, swelling, tenderness, redness or stiffness should be reported. Don’t let things go unattended.
- This condition runs in my family, what should I do? Genetics play a huge role in preventative healthcare. For example, if there is a family history of diabetes, ask if you should be tested.
- Do I need to see a specialist? Ask your doctor if seeing a specialist should be the next step to address a specific problem. Your primary care physician is the best resource for finding a specialist who will fit your needs.
- What blood tests do I need? Work with your primary care doctor to keep your blood tests up to date. Always request an explanation of the results and a copy for your records.
- Am I eligible for any cancer screenings? Do you have a family history of cancer? Preventative cancer screenings such as colonoscopies (recommended to be first scheduled when you turn 50) and mammograms are important for staying on top of your health.
- Am I at risk for diabetes? Type 2, or late onset diabetes, is common in adults over the age of 60. If you have already been diagnosed, have a family history of diabetes, or have been identified as “pre-diabetic,” talk with your doctor about treatment plans.
- Am I at risk for osteoporosis? Ask your doctor about your bone density, Vitamin D and Calcium levels. Bone tissue degenerates with age, causing frail bones and making falls more serious. Osteoporosis is more common among older women, but also occurs in men.
- What are early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s? Knowing the early signs impacts treatment and planning options. You and your family members should watch for signs of memory loss, changes in personality or depression.
If you don’t have a primary care physician, the New Hampshire Servicelink Community Resource Directory (www.servicelink.nh.gov, 866- 634-9412) is a resource.
So, grab a pad of paper to jot down your questions and your doctor’s answers. You will be on your way to having meaningful conversations that could help guide you down a healthier path.