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August 06, 2015

Avoiding the Nursing Home: How to Choose the Right Doctor for You

Aches, pains and other medical ailments come and go as we age, but you don’t have to accept these as a normal part of the aging process. Having a supportive doctor can not only ensure your health, the right physician can play an important role in helping you maintain your independence and avoid the nursing home

There are a lot of options to pick from when it comes to choosing a doctor for your needs. Here are some tips for selecting the right doctor for you.

Consider a Geriatrician 

If you’re looking to switch doctors, consider a geriatrician. These physicians specialize in preventing and/or treating health issues in older adults. Geriatricians are board-certified in family medicine or internal medicine, and they have also earned specialized certifications. You can typically expect a more holistic approach to health care when you see a geriatrician. 

If you’d like to talk to a geriatrician — and you have a good relationship with your current primary care physician — ask your doctor for recommendations. Or you can ask your local hospital or senior center, or contact The American Geriatrics Association; they provide the following link to help you search for a doctor in your area. If you have friends or family members who already see a geriatrician, ask for their recommendations.

When you’ve got a recommendation that interests you, make an appointment and ask pertinent questions:

  • What is the doctor’s background?
  • How many years of experience does he or she have? 
  • How convenient are office hours? 
  • What should you do if you need medical help outside of office hours?

Make sure you feel comfortable with the doctor, nurses and office staff before making your choice. 

If you describe symptoms you’re experiencing and the doctor responds with something like, “Oh, that’s just because you’re getting older,” this is a major red flag and you should choose another doctor. 

Or, if you don’t feel comfortable with a particular doctor or his/her staff — or if you felt rushed — go to the next geriatrician on your list. Ultimately, it comes down to finding a physician who will listen to you, give you the respect you deserve, and respect you want to stay in your home.

Talk with Your Current Doctor

Communicating well with your doctor is crucial to get the most out of each visit and to have a health care plan that helps you to stay independent. MedlinePlus says you should bring the following with you at each visit:

  • A list of your concerns/topics you want to discuss
  • Current list of medicines you take, including herbal meications, plus vitamins
  • Pen and paper (or another method to take notes)

If it helps, bring a trusted friend or family member with you to your appointments. And, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to give you written instructions if you’re unsure about any specifics – or to request to see a specialist if a situation warrants. 

Remember, your age should never be a reason you’re experiencing discomfort. When it comes to finding the right doctor for you, remember to ask for recommendations, learn how the office operates and find out whether a physician takes time to answer your health questions and respects your needs.

Avoiding a Nursing Home | Kendal at Home

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