October 31, 2018
Staff Note: Seniors can catch a ride to appointments in Johnson County. Johnson County My Ride allows seniors another way to reach appointments if an appointment companion is unavailable.
Visits to a physician are just one step people make in an effort to improve their well-being. While it’s important that everyone visit their physicians at least once a year for a checkup, seniors may need to see their physicians more frequently than other age groups.
When visiting the doctor, it is easy for anyone to miss important components of what the doctor is saying, and it’s just as easy to misunderstand certain instructions or medication information. Seniors who bring companions along to appointments with their physicians can reduce the risk of misunderstanding advice or diagnoses given by their doctors.
Data from U.S. News and World Report states that about one-third of seniors still living on their own take a companion with them to their routine doctor’s office visits. Companions are typically spouses, but they can include children or other family members as well.
Patients may find there are many advantages to bringing someone along to an appointment. And companions may want to learn more about patients’ goals at each appointment prior to going along so they can prepare and know how to help during the appointment.
People tend to forget at least half of what they hear in the doctor’s office, says the Archives of Internal Medicine. This tendency may be increased when patients are nervous about the potential outcome of their visits. Bringing a companion along means that both people are actively listening. Together, the information they’ve heard can combine to provide a full account of the visit.
Companions can jot down important notes about the appointment, such as dates and times for follow-up visits, medication advice and any other instructions that may be forgotten once the patient leaves the office. Companions can later translate the jargon-heavy language of a physician into an understandable language the patient can fully understand.
Sometimes a companion can be a useful resource, calling a doctor’s attention to a patient’s prior hospitalizations and illnesses.
Companions can even call attention to any medications the patient is currently taking.
Serving as an advocate
Very often a companion can operate as a patient advocate, clarifying questions or getting further information out of a doctor if the patient is hesitant to ask. If the information isn’t clear, the companion can raise red flags or ask to have the instructions put in a different light.
Sometimes patients need companions who speak their native languages when their physicians do not. People are learning that bringing a family member or friend along to doctors’ appointments can be a smart way to make the most of doctor/patient interactions.