Making a list and checking it twice good advice before a doctor's visit
By Johanna Hicks | Extension Agent/FCS

August 14, 2005 - For some people, a visit to the hospital or physician's office can be a very stressful experience — a long drive may be involved, and almost certainly a long wait. By the time you actually see your health professional, you may forget to tell him or her something important. Take an active role in preparing for your health visits so that you get full advantage of your time with the health care professional.

Most of us take a list of items to buy when we go to the grocery store. After all, we don't want to trust our memory and risk forgetting a major item, right? A visit to your health professional should be no different. Andy Crocker, Gerontology Health Specialist with Texas Cooperative Extension, gives some very useful suggestions, which I thought I'd pass on to you.

1) Before your visit — Purchase a spiral notebook so that all your information is kept in the same place. Make a list of questions, comments and concerns before going to your health provider's office, leaving space to write down any instructions you might be given. Your list should include: main reason for visiting your health provider; list of health concerns and/or complaints (when did it start?, what makes it better?, what makes it worse?); and your list of medications (include dosages, why you take that medication and any side-effects you may be experiencing).

2) During your visit — Work your way down the list, making sure each item is addressed. By having this information ready, you can maximize your time. Listen to his or her responses to your questions and concerns. Since you left space under each question, comment or concern, write down the response from your health provider.

3) When you get home — Go over the instructions that were given during your office visit. The time in-between your office visits gives you the opportunity to begin making out a new list of questions, comments, or concerns. Your spiral bound notebook has now become your own health record! (Remember not to keep personal information in your notebook, such as your Social Security number, in case your notebook is lost or stolen.)

A spiral bound notebook will serve as an excellent personal health record. However, if you want something a little more 'official', the Administration on Aging has a publication entitled "Personal Health Care Journal" which may help you get organized for you next visit with your health care provider. You can download this journal or order a free copy from

http://www.aoa.gov/press/publications/publications/asp.

Make the most of your medical appointment by making a list and checking it twice!

UPCOMING EVENTS

August 25 — Household Arts Contest volunteer meeting, 5:30 p.m., Extension Office (open to all past volunteers and anyone else wishing to assist this year!)

August 27 — Hopkins County 4-H Achievement Banquet, Wesley United Methodist Church, 6 p.m.

CLOSING THOUGHT

Don't sit on the fence when you know you should stand.

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