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Talking to Your Doctor

doctor and patientTalking with your doctor is important to prevent falls. You can bring a family member, friend or caregiver to your appointments to help you ask questions and listen to what your doctor says.

Prepare for your visit
  1. Write down any questions you may have about your risk factors for falling. Here are some sample questions to help get you started. Time may be limited, so start with the most important questions. You can also talk about these concerns over several visits with your doctor, or talk with a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.


  2. Write down how you are going to describe your symptoms or how you’ve been feeling such as:
    • Dizzy
    • Unsteady on your feet
    • Confused
    • Over tired

  3. Make sure to include
  4. Complete an updated medication list (Español, 中文)
    or bring in all of the prescription and non-prescription medicines you take to your appointment or to your pharmacist. Your pharmacist, doctor or a nurse can help you create a medication list. Remember to include
    over-the counter medicines, supplements and any
    herbal remedies.


  5. If you have fallen or if you’re afraid you might fall, fill out this short form and bring to your appointment. This can help your provider better understand your needs in developing a falls prevention plan.

 

During your Visit
  • Be honest. It’s important to share your concerns even if you feel uncomfortable.
    • It’s important that you talk to your doctor about any use of alcohol or drugs. These may interfere with medicines you take and increase your fall risk. Learn more about alcohol use and aging from the National Institute on Aging.


    • Tell your doctor if you have been feeling depressed, or if you have experienced a stressful event like the loss of a loved one, if you’ve been having trouble sleeping or if you have anxiety. Always tell your doctor if you are trying any
      over-the-counter or herbal remedies to address these issues.


    • Tell your doctor if you’ve been experiencing incontinence, or having trouble making it to the bathroom on time. If you are rushing, you may be more likely to fall.

  • Make sure you understand your doctor’s responses, ask questions until you do.


  • Take notes. If you brought a friend, family member or caregiver, ask them to help. Consider bringing a tape recorder.


  • Ask your doctor to write down any instructions or if there are brochures you can take with you.


  • Other members of your health care team, including nurses, pharmacists and social service providers can also be good sources of information. Talk with them, too.


 

Keep a Diary

Keeping a medical diary or health journal can help you communicate with all of your health care providers during your office or home visits. Remember to bring your diary and a pen with you to all of your appointments. Read more about keeping a health journal.

 

Resources

Content adapted with permission from the Hospital for Special Surgery VOICES 60+ Advocacy program.

 

Last Updated: February 9, 2012