All to often, people leave their doctor’s office feeling confused. Here are some tips to help you understand the facts at your next doctor’s visit.

Write out any questions in advance.
If you go into your appointment with a list of symptoms, topics, and questions you would like to cover, you are less likely to forget any of them. Another advantage of this is that you can spend less time thinking and more time listening.

Take notes.
Bring a notepad and write down the name of any new diagnosis, treatment option or medication and check with your doctor to make sure you spelled it correctly. You should also record any tips given and read them aloud to your doctor for confirmation.

Ask questions.
If there is something you don’t fully understand, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you ask for clarification if your doctor uses a medical term that you’re not familiar with.

Bring someone along.
Bring a friend or family member along to have an extra set of ears, or ask if you may record the conversation with a portable tape recorder.

Ask for written materials.
Often, doctors can provide you with printouts with more information on a diagnosis or treatment, especially if it is common. If no materials are available, ask for the name of a reliable website where you could find more information.

Find another source.
If you are having trouble understanding your doctor, sometimes a nurse or physician’s assistant may be able to explain something more clearly.

Ask for more time.
Even if your doctor is too busy to extend your appointment, you should be able to schedule another time with your doctor to talk by in person, by e-mail, or by phone.

John Reese, Elder Care Coordinator

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Long Term Care Guide