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Seniors should take someone with when going to appointments

FLORENCE, Wis. — While it is important for all to visit their physicians at least once a year for a checkup, seniors may need to schedule their appointments more frequently than other age groups. When visiting the doctor, it is easy to miss important components of what the doctor is saying, and it is just as easy to misunderstand certain instructions or medication information.

Seniors who bring companions along to appointments with their physicians can reduce the risk of misunderstanding instructions or diagnoses given by their doctors. A companion can be a family member or close friend.

Before an appointment, you and your companion can go over a list of your health concerns, your medications and changes in your health since your last visit. Your companion can remind you what you planned to discuss with the doctor if you forget. They can take notes for you and can help you remember what the doctor said.

Advantages of bringing a companion along to an appointment:

— Listening: People tend to forget at least half of what they hear in the doctor’s office. This tendency may increase when patients are nervous about the potential outcome of their visits. Bringing a companion along means both people are actively listening. Together, the information they have heard merge to provide a full account of the visit.

— Take notes: Companions can jot down important notes about the appointment, such as dates and times for follow-up visits, medication advice and any other instructions that they may be unable to remember once the patient leaves the office.

— Medical history: Sometimes, a companion can be a useful resource, calling a doctor’s attention to a patient’s previous hospitalizations and illnesses. Companions can even call attention to any medications the patient is currently taking.

— Advocate: Often, a companion operates as a patient advocate, clarifying questions or getting further information out of a doctor if the patient is hesitant to ask. If the information is unclear, the companion can raise red flags or ask to have the instructions put in a different light

Make the most of doctor appointments by asking a family member or close friend to accompany you.

For more information on talking with your doctor, or information on aging or living with a disability, contact the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County at 715-528-4890, online at www.florencecountywi.com, click on Aging and Disability Resource Center or stop by the office in the lower level of the Florence County Courthouse, 501 Lake Ave., Florence, Wis.

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