7 Tips to Prepare for a Productive Check-Up

Most Medicare and Medi-Cal patients are eligible for free annual wellness exams. These check-ups are important, as health conditions that are detected early are usually much easier to treat. Plus, seeking regular preventive care can actually help to ward off the development of many serious diseases.

It’s important to take your loved one to the doctor for regular checkups. But these visits will be even more productive if you can follow this handy checklist.

Create a list of all medications and dosages. If your loved one has been seeing several doctors, his or her primary care physician might not be aware of all prescription medications. Prepare this list and take it with you, just in case. It will be much easier to answer questions during this part of the checkup, and having this information can help to prevent dangerous drug interactions. Note: Include herbal remedies on this list, too. Some of them can interact with prescriptions.

Make a list of questions or concerns before you go. It can be difficult to remember everything during an office visit, so if you have multiple concerns, write them down ahead of time. Consider your loved one’s diet, sleeping habits, and any new or unexplained symptoms when making this list. If you feel that a prescription is not working well, or your loved one has developed a need for certain equipment, make a note of it.

Ask about vaccinations. If you have any concerns about vaccinations, now is the time to ask. Most doctors recommend annual flu vaccines for seniors (who are most vulnerable to the flu). You might also consider shots for pneumonia and shingles.

Schedule preventive care. Physicians generally recommend screenings for breast cancer (for female patients), colon cancer, and prostate cancer (for men). Depending upon other test results, you loved one’s doctor might also recommend screening for lipid disorder and diabetes. A bone density scan could be performed on anyone, but is mostly necessary for women over 65. At older ages, many of these tests are ordered annually. You might prefer to spread them out over a few months, if there are no pressing concerns, so that your loved one is not overwhelmed with doctor appointments.

Ask about referrals. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s vision, hearing, mental health, or some other condition which requires a specialist, ask for a referral at this visit. If your loved one smokes, now is the time to ask about smoking cessation programs.

Make your own record. Write down your loved one’s height, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and the results of any other test performed at the check-up. These can be handy in an emergency. Also, write down the lot numbers of any vaccines received, along with the date. If your loved one experiences a reaction to a vaccine, you will need this information to make a report.

Schedule something fun or relaxing afterward. Your loved one might be feeling anxious or stressed from the doctor visit. Depending upon his or her preferences and energy level, you might wish to schedule something fun (like dining out) or relaxing (a spa visit) afterward.

The above tips are just a general guideline for a successful checkup. Your loved one’s physician may have additional concerns, depending upon his or her individual condition and needs.

As a trusted member of our community, Hospice of the Valleys, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) has been providing hospice care to the Inland Valley and Fallbrook for over 34 years. Please call us for senior community resources, or for information about hospice care. We’re here to help. 951-200-7800.

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