Welcome to Part III of our series brought to you by Mark Lachs, MD, Author of Treat Me, Not My Age: A Doctor’s Guide to Getting the Best Care as You or a Loved One Gets Older
Week III: Organize your thoughts before the doctor visit.
Geriatricians (and all primary care docs, for that matter) don’t have scalpels. The tool of our trade is what we call the medical history — understanding your story is the key to making an accurate diagnosis. So think about what’s troubling you in some detail before coming to the doctor to tell your story. For example, if you have pain, when did it start? What makes it worse? Is there anything that makes it better — perhaps position, ice, or Tylenol? Does it move or radiate anywhere? Providing as much accurate detail as you can about what’s troubling you will likely lead to a better outcome. You’re not a doctor, and you’re not going to be able to anticipate all the questions you’ll be asked, but a good doc should leave no nit unpicked in probing you about specific symptoms. If you are accompanying a loved one who typically “clams up” during a doctor visit, I’d interview him or her beforehand to practice responding — maybe try a little role playing, with you starring as the doctor.