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7 Questions Seniors Should Ask Their Doctor

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7 Questions Seniors Should Ask Their Doctor

One of the great benefits of residing at Bethesda Gardens assisted living community in Arlington is that you have the peace of mind of living with 24-hour support staff nearby. Trained team members are available at any time if you need them for an emergency, and you can also take advantage of services that include medication management, individual care plans, regular health assessments and help managing your chronic conditions.

And while all those services help seniors stay healthy and active, they aren't a replacement for following up with your doctors and other medical providers on a regular basis. For some people — of any age — medical appointments can be intimidating, uncomfortable and downright inconvenient. It's tempting to get in and out as fast as you can, especially since sometimes you spend a lot of time in the waiting room to begin with.

But seniors should try to avoid rushing their medical appointments. Don't be afraid to ask questions or get clarification for your concerns, if you have any. If you're not sure where to start, here are seven important questions that might be worth asking your doctor or nurse.

1. What should I be eating to best fuel my body?

Nutritional needs evolve as we age, which means the food that best fed your body three decades ago may not be right for you anymore. Changing metabolisms, issues digesting certain foods and a need to cater to potential chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure can all change what you should be eating.

Talk to your doctor about what type of diet might be best for you, and ask about dietary services. Your doctor can let you know if you just need to keep an eye on your salt intake or if it might be helpful for you to work with a dietitian or nurse educator.

2. Do I need to take supplements or vitamins?

Some people assume supplements are a must for everyone and start taking things they see on the pharmacy shelf or advertised on television. In reality, it's much better to get as much of your vitamin and mineral intake from actual food, as your body can process and retain that much better. And if you're eating a balanced diet on a regular basis, you may not need all those supplements.

But every body is different, and your body does change as it ages. You may not get enough of one type of mineral or have a hard time converting some vitamins to good use. Your doctor can help you understand what areas you might be deficient in by running labs and doing a physical exam. Then, he or she can recommend the supplements that might be best for you.

3. What can I do to reduce my risks of dementia?

This is one many people avoid asking because the answer might be scary. But understanding your individual risks for dementia as you continue to age is important. Doctors can often recommend activities and habits that might stave off dementia or reduce the immediate impact if you do have this disease.

4. What types of exercise are safe for me?

Staying as active as possible is a great way to live your best life in retirement, which is one reason the schedule at Bethesda Gardens is filled with events that keep you moving and bring you into social situations with others. We offer a range of fitness options, too, including chair exercises.

But before you engage in any new activities, it's a good idea to check with your doctor. Ask about how much you should be exercising and what types of activities are safe and most productive for your body and mind.

5. What steps can I take to manage my chronic condition?

If you've been diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, you may go through stages of shock, anger and grief. It might be tempting to ignore the issue as much as possible, but facing it head on is the best way to continue to live your best life. In many cases, seniors can continue to live active, enjoyable lifestyles while managing a chronic condition, but that typically requires working closely with your healthcare team.

Ask your doctor what you need to do to manage your condition, and don't be afraid to ask doctors and nurses for clarification. Education is definitely one of the weapons you wield here. You can also turn to the staff at Bethesda Gardens for assistance managing medications and health metrics at any time.

6. What are the reasons for these medications?

Remember that the person ultimately in charge of your health care is you. Taking medications can be an important part of managing your health, but you should understand why you're taking each one. Remaining educated about your health care lets you make the best decisions for you and can help reduce issues of over medicating.

7. What side effects are common with these medications?

Speaking of medications, remember to ask about common side effects when your doctor prescribes anything you're unfamiliar with. Knowing what to expect when you start taking a medication can help increase your peace of mind and minimize unnecessary trips to the doctor or emergency room. At the same time, remember that you know your body best. If you feel like something is definitely wrong, talk to the staff at Bethesda Gardens or call your health care provider rather than chalking it up to side effects.

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