Should Your Parents’ Doctors Be Asking More Questions?

Older people’s doctors don’t always ask the questions geriatric-medicine experts think they should, says Mark Miller, a columnist with Reuters news service, reporting on a survey from the John A. Hartford Foundation.

For example, when’s the last time your parents’ doctor reviewed their medicines with them? A third of survey respondents said they hadn’t had such a review in the last year. And most hadn’t been asked about their mood or falling, Miller says.

But how are you supposed to know what ought to be covered during a doctor visit? Miller suggests starting with going over preventive-care checklists from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The checklist for men is here and for women is here. Also, he points out, the National Council on Aging offers free online and in-person workshops for people with chronic diseases.

But also, don’t forget about simply talking to the doctor. Miller writes:

Many seniors find it difficult to take a more assertive role, says Richard Birkel, senior vice president for healthy aging at the National Council on Aging (NCOA).

“The current generation didn’t grow up with a tradition where they were expected to take active role,” he says. “It’s up to you to shape your office visit.”

“Have a list of questions and goals in mind,” he adds. “You can’t just go in and expect your doctor to miraculously scan you and figure out what is going on in your life.”

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