How to Communicate with Your Doctor?

One of the things that increases as we age is the amount of visits we must make to a healthcare provider. Immune systems aren’t as strong once we reach a certain age, and as our bodies begin to break down or feel the effects of aging, more doctor’s visits become an unfortunate necessity.

For many seniors, as well as the family members who accompany them to the doctor, communicating with healthcare professionals is overwhelming. You may feel like you shouldn’t bring up symptoms you’ve been having when you’re there for something unrelated; you may forget the questions you intended to ask, or not think of any until later. You may find it difficult to understand medical explanations, and those are only some of the ways in which communicating with doctors can be difficult.

It’s important to establish a good relationship with your healthcare providers. By understanding their diagnoses and treatment plans, and expressing your own desires clearly, you’ll be able to have better health overall. Here are some ways to improve communications with doctors:

Keep organized health records.

Knowing your medical history, including what types of medications you have taken or are taking, what types of treatments you’ve been through before, if you’ve had major surgeries, and any other important items of note, can drastically affect the way your doctor plans for your current treatments. Most of the time, doctors rely on the medical history that a patient fills out in their first visit, or they may be able to request information from previous doctors.

But this doesn’t paint a full picture. Additionally, you may need to reference your records yourself. For example, it can be hard to remember the long scientific names of every medication you’ve ever tried, but it’s easy to remember that one of them gave you a severe reaction. If your health records are organized and easy to sort through, you’ll be able to find the name of the medicine you reacted to in moments.

List your questions before and after each visit.

While physicians are often very busy, bustling in and out of back-to-back appointments, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get answers when you need them. Having a list of questions ready before the visit can help ensure you get all the information you need.

Before your visit, list any questions that you have about the specific issues you’ll be addressing in your visit. This may include questions you thought of after a previous visit that haven’t been addressed, questions about side effects you’ve been experiencing, questions about new treatments or techniques, or anything else that comes to mind.

After your visit, jot down any questions that come to mind about the discussion during the visit. It can be hard to think of every single question you have in the moment, when a lot of information is being explained all at once. You can save these questions for the next visit, or call or email your doctor’s office for clarification when you’re ready.

Clarify, notify, and stay in touch.

For some patients, it’s easy to be intimidated by a busy physician who isn’t as forthcoming with information as others. It’s important to remember that your health belongs to you, and you can be assertive during your visits to ensure that you understand everything. When in doubt, just remember: Clarify, Notify, Stay in Touch.

Be sure that anything that isn’t clear is clarified before you leave; notify your doctor of any symptoms or complaints you have, no matter how small; and make sure you stay in touch by reporting side effects or new symptoms when they happen.


With these steps, you’ll be able to build a relationship with your doctor that will help you take control of your health.