Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Indianapolis

Choosing a Doctor

As we age, chances increase that we will have some type of health challenge. It is important that you have a primary care doctor who knows you and all of your health history. So whether you are a person in great health or one with some health challenges, it's time to consider if you have a relationship with a doctor you are comfortable with and trust.

Many of us don't think about our doctor until we are confronted with an emergency. Most people do some research before buying a new car or appliance, yet the selection of your primary care doctor is much more important. It is extremely critical as they are one of many partners that will help you live a long healthy life.

If you already have a doctor you are comfortable with, congratulations. If you don't have a primary care doctor, or are not happy with the one you have, the time to look around and make a decision is now, while you are healthy and have time to really think about your choices. The following ideas may help you in that process.

Step 1. Ask friends, family, co workers, or other health professionals who they go to and what they like about the Doctor. A name that comes up frequently may be a strong possibility as a choice. It may be helpful to have several names to select from as the doctor you select may not be taking patients or participate in your health care plan.

If none of this works, contact your hospital of choice, local medical society, local physician referral services or nearby medical schools or university medical centers in your area.

Step 2. Call the doctor's office. Find out about the doctor's education and training. A board certified physician is one that has extra training after medical school, such as family practice, internal medicine or geriatrics. The staff can also tell you about office policies, standard insurance the office accepts, payment methods and the doctor's hospital admitting privileges. Also find out if they file insurance forms for you. If you are satisfied with the responses, let the staff know that you would like to schedule an appointment to meet the doctor before making a final choice.

Step 3. Schedule an appointment to meet the doctor in person. Here are some very good questions from the National Institute on Aging, that you may want to ask:

Step 4. After meeting, ask yourself if you are comfortable and confident with this doctor. Were you at ease asking questions? Did the doctor clearly answer the questions? If the answer is no, schedule an appointment with another doctor.

How to ask good questions at a Doctor's appointment

Write down everything you want to ask before you go to the appointment. There may be a time in your life when it becomes more challenging to ask the questions and remember all that the doctor said. Writing your questions in advance will help. Remember, you can always take a friend or family member with you to take notes.

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