5 Steps to Take Control of Your Medical Care! #health #healthy

Doctor and Patient [Photo Courtesy: http://commons.wikimedia.org]

If you are in your 50s, you have seen many doctors in your lifetime. The 50s are a critical decade because that is when the “chickens come home to roost.” If you have been health-conscious all of your life, maybe you can escape your 50s without too many medical problems. However, if you are like most people, and you ate what you wanted, drank what you wanted, and never got enough sleep or exercise, chances are you will experience a medical warning in your 50s! Washington Post contributor Sandra G. Boodman wrote an excellent article on examples of medical mysteries that occur for various reasons. She listed the following steps to reduce your chances of becoming a medical mystery:

  1. Get a Copy of Your Medical Records
  2. Be Persistent and Follow Up
  3. Don’t Go Alone
  4. Come Prepared
  5. Trust Your Instincts

Medical Records

When my gynecologist retired a few years ago, I asked for a copy of my medical records to give to my new gynecologist. I had been seeing my old gynecologist since I was 16, and when he gave me my medical records, there were only 3 – 4 pages! I asked him about the rest of the records, and he said there would be a $50 charge for him to copy  all of my medical records. I felt it was very important for my new gynecologist to see my entire medical history, so I paid the $50 and gave the big stack to my new gynecologist so she could determine what was important for her to keep.

Be Persistent

Whenever I get bloodwork or any laboratory tests performed, I call in a few days and ask for a copy of the results. My spouse is just the opposite, who figures if there is anything wrong, the doctor’s office will call. According to Ms Boodman’s article, this is not always the case. I have had to “encourage” my spouse to be more proactive and follow up with the doctor’s office for test results.

Don’t Go Alone

I am a very independent person, so I have never thought twice about going to the doctor’s office alone. However, now that I am in my 50s, I realize that it is very important for someone else to know my medical history. A medical emergency can occur, and someone else needs to know what medications you take on a regular basis, and an overview of your medical history.

Come Prepared

Since you only get a few moments with your doctor, it is important to make the best use of your time! Before your appointment, make notes about your questions, symptoms and concerns. After your appointment, jot down the doctor’s answers to your questions, so that you won’t forget! Also, take a copy of your medical records and/or lab test results that you think may be related to your medical concerns.

Trust Your Instincts

If you have a gut feeling that something doesn’t seem quite right, get a second opinion! Listen to your intuition! The Internet is a valuable resource. I use it to search for prescription drug side affects. If I plan to see a new physician, I search the Internet for reviews. When I needed to have surgery, I searched for the top surgeons in my geographic area. Two names popped up and I searched for reviews on their names. One of the surgeons had hundreds of online reviews attesting to his bedside manner, his willingness to answer questions, and his follow-up after surgery. I met with 3 surgeons, one of whom was world-renowned, one at Johns Hopkins University, and the one I found on the Internet. The world-renowned surgeon was in his late 70s and was not willing to answer questions. The surgeon at JHU was recommended by my spouse’s co-worker, who recently had surgery. He was nice enough and answered my questions, but he didn’t have the number of surgeries under his belt. The medical literature stresses that the number of medical procedures a surgeon has performed is an important evaluation factor. The surgeon I found on the Internet, who was listed in Washingtonian Magazine’s Top Doctors, met all of my requirements. He had performed more than 3,000 surgeries, had excellent bedside manner, and answered all of my questions without rushing me. My instincts told he that he was the one! Now that several months have passed since my surgery, I am extremely happy with my decision!

For more details on taking control of your medical care, click here. Join us at thefiftyplusnetwork.com as we take more control over our medical care!

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