QUESTION: All of us at sometime will be a patient. To get well you not only need good medical care but must understand everything your doctor(s) are telling you. Do you have any suggestions on how to help yourself be a better informed patient and healthier person because of it?
ANSWER: An excellent question – we must understand what our medical personnel are telling us and use that information correctly. To accomplish this you need to talk to your doctor and your doctor must listen to your concerns.
To do this you must be an active party in your health care team. To start you need to tell your doctor about everything you are currently taking and this includes prescriptions, over-the-counter items and dietary supplements – including vitamins and herbs. Every item is important so don’t leave anything out.
Also you need to make sure your doctor(s) knows about any allergies or adverse reactions you have had to any items you have taken. Again don’t leave anything out because you think it is not important – everything is important.
Understanding your prescriptions is very important. First make sure you can read the prescription itself and ask for information about those items in terms that you can understand. That would include what is this prescription for and how am I supposed to take it and for how long. Ask if there are any expected side effects and should they, occur what actions to take.
At the pharmacy make sure you are given the correct prescription and if you have any questions about the instructions on the label this is the time to have it explained. If the prescription is a liquid ask what is the best method for measuring a dosage.
The pharmaceutical company’s preprinted information about this particular drug is very important and should be given to you at the time of purchase – if none is offered ask if there are any and when you get them take time to read them. Again after reading if there are any questions ask for an explanation.
If surgery is to take place investigate surgeons and hospitals where this surgery has been done many times – and if possible select one of those that has the greatest success. Make sure you, your primary physician and your surgeon agree on exactly what will be done and when. All players on the team should agree on the treatment.
If tests are to be given find out what each test or treatment will consist of and if you would be better off without certain procedures. Make sure you understand the outcome. When you have a test never assume that no news is good news – make sure you receive a report of the results.
Make sure you have an Advance Directive for Health Care naming the person you want to advocate for you and speak on your behalf if you are unable to speak for yourself.
You can never ask too many questions – an informed patient is a happier, healthier person.
THURSDAY – April 11 – 10:00 to 11:30 am – Seminar – “Now I Am Wise Part 3: A New Conversation of Purpose” – at Agoura Hills Recreation & Event Center, 29900 Ladyface Court, Agoura Hills – for reservations call (818) 597-7361.
TUESDAY – April 16 – 10:30 to 11:30 am – Presentation – “Healthy Cooking – Eat Well, Live Well” – at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley – reservations can be made at (805) 583-6363.
WEDNESDAY – April 17 – 1:30 to 3:00 pm – Seminar – “You’re in the Driver’s Seat – Let’s Make Sure You Stay There” – at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village. For information call the Advocate’s Office (805) 495-6250.
THURSDAY – April 18 – 1:30 to 3:00 pm – Seminar – “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test” – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. For reservations call (805) 381-2744.
The Forever Young Singers is looking for a backup piano player. This volunteer group sings at nursing homes, assisted living centers, adult day care centers and sometimes church luncheons. The programs consist of well-known songs. Practice is on Friday mornings 9:00 to 11:00 and community signing takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For more information call The Conejo Senior Volunteer Program office at (805) 381-2742.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.