Senior Care - How to Provide Elderly Independence

Ask These Questions At Your Next Doctor's Office Visit

by Stephen Silva

What should you ask your primary care physician (or PCP) on your next doctor's office visit? Your annual physical is coming up. But you're not sure which health-related questions should move to the top of your must-ask list. If you're not sure how to start a discussion during your next doctor's office visit, take a look at the top questions to start with. 

How Do Lifestyle Factors Impact Overall Health?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poor nutritional habits, sedentary lifestyle (lack of activity), excessive alcohol intake, and tobacco use are behaviors that can lead to the development of chronic diseases. Along with these lifestyle factors, drug/substance use, caffeine consumption, environmental/chemical exposure, and psychological stress can also raise or lower your risk for severe disease or some types of medical conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and infertility. 

Talk to your PCP about your risk level and what lifestyle factors you may need to change. If you already have a chronic medical condition (such as high blood pressure or diabetes), the doctor may want you to modify specific lifestyle factors as part of your treatment plan. Even though a pre-existing condition may put you at a higher risk, healthy adults also need to pay attention to their lifestyle factors. You may feel fine right now and your test results may all come back within normal ranges—but failure to adopt a healthy lifestyle could lead to future problems.

How Can You Change Lifestyle Factors?

Your lifestyle factor discussion with the doctor reveals the need to make modifications. But you're not sure what to do or how to change your personal behaviors. This could lead to a secondary line of questioning. Get specific and talk to the doctor about a diet plan, exercise routine, smoking cessation program, or other ways to decrease your risk level safely.

What Tests Do You Need?

It's not likely that you'll need every diagnostic test possible right now. The doctor may want to start off with a complete blood count (or CBC), comprehensive metabolic panel (or CMP), lipid panel, A1C, and a urinalysis. These tests can provide an overview of your current health and help the doctor to diagnose conditions such as high cholesterol or diabetes. 

Your age, sex, family history, and medical history may affect the specific types of tests you need. Additional tests could include a mammogram, colonoscopy, bone density test, or thyroid stimulating hormone test. Some of these tests are not done during a routine doctor's appointment. Instead, your PCP will provide you with a prescription or referral.

Contact your doctor's office if you have additional questions.