Going to the doctor can be like going to the grocery store—before going you have an idea of what you need, but sometimes when you get there it becomes too overwhelming to remember every little thing. So if you think grocery lists are essential, imagine how important it is to have a list for your doctor! If your condition is new (or your doctor), it becomes even more vital to know what information you’ll want to leave with in advance.

going to the doctorA very helpful way to keep track of everything and avoid confusion later is by keeping a notebook of your medical issues and bringing it with you to all doctor appointments. This book could include a list of your medications, your diagnoses, and could be a place for you to journal your every day experiences of health (what you consume and how certain food/drink may affect you, what times of day certain symptoms appear, what things usually relieve your issue, etc.). Keeping a record not only helps your doctor, but helps you see patterns in your own life that can help you take control of your health.

Insurance Questions:

Does my insurance cover my medication? Does my insurance cover this visit? These questions can also be asked to your doctor’s receptionist if your doctor is unsure. Though insurance can be a nitpicky and annoying subject, it is one that must be understood in order for you to make the most of your doctor visits and your health. Going to the doctor is also a good time to review your coverage with Medicare or any plan supplements.

Medication Questions:

What are possible side effects and contraindications of this new medication? Should I take the medication with or without food? Is there anything (food, drink, certain exercises) I should avoid while on this medication? Does my insurance cover this medication and is there a generic version of it?

Test Questions:

How long will it take before I receive my test results? What can I do to help my symptoms in the mean time? Should I use ice or heat (for pain, etc.)?

Going to the doctor: Medical Questions

What is my diagnosis (the name of it and how you spell it)? What may have caused this diagnosis and is it a habit that could potentially cause other issues? What is the prognosis for my diagnosis (how long will I have it, how successful is treatment, etc.)? What are my treatment options and which you do recommend and why? What costs are involved in my treatment (short and long term costs)?

When going to the doctor, it can be very helpful to be accompanied by someone. If you are a caregiver, make sure that your loved one signs a HIPPA form so that confidential information can be released to you without any issues later on.

Other resources:

National Institute on Aging senior health website.