11 Questions to Ask Your Doctor During a Regular Checkup

January 11, 2024

11 Questions to Ask Your Doctor During a Regular Checkup

Any health and wellness plan includes preventative care and regular checkups with your primary care physician. However, if you don’t visit your primary care physician only once a year for an annual exam, you might sometimes feel rushed or that you didn’t get a chance to ask a question you’d been curious about.

Primary care physicians are busy and while many who serve seniors do take extra time to spend with older adults during their checkup, you can maximize your time together by coming into the appointment prepared. Here are some questions to ask during your next annual checkup so that you can leave the appointment feeling empowered and ready to take on the next year of your wellness plan.

you female doctor assisting elderly man

Before the Appointment

Preparing for your annual exam begins when you first schedule it. While you are chatting with the office representative, make sure to ask these questions.

Do I need any labs drawn during this appointment? 

If your physician wants to take blood during your checkup, you might be instructed to fast before. It’s best to know this now so you can make plans as opposed to eating before you come in and then needing to return for fasted blood work.

Do I need any labs drawn before this appointment?

Depending on your condition and medical history, your primary care physician might want to see lab results before you come into the office. If you need lab work completed before your appointment, ensure you know when and where to go to get that work completed.

Can you have a wheelchair waiting for me?

If you have trouble walking from the front entrance to your physician’s office, tell the representative so that they can arrange to have a wheelchair waiting for you before your appointment.

Do you have a list of my current medications?

Many older adults go to a variety of doctors, including specialists for care of any chronic conditions. Unfortunately, not all medications prescribed are always known about by everyone on the team. Your annual exam is a great time to bring along an updated list of all your medications, including doses, so that your primary care physician can update your records accordingly.

During the Appointment

male doctor taking elderly woman's blood pressure

Now that your appointment is scheduled, you can take time to jot down a few questions in a notebook so that you can pull it out when your physician is with you. Write down the answers so that you can recall them later, or bring along a caregiver or family member to write down the answers for you.

Do you have all of my updated contact information?

An annual exam is the perfect time to ensure your physician has all of your contact information, including any information regarding your Power of Attorney designations, DNR (do not resuscitate) status, and other advance directives. You can check on this with the receptionist when you check in for the appointment or wait until the nursing assistant comes in to gather your medical history.

Can I tell you about some medical concerns that have happened in the past year?

Now is the time to tell your physician about any medical concerns you have experienced in the past year. For example, have you fallen in the past year? Have you been to the emergency room or urgent care, and why was that visit necessary? 

What vaccines are best for me, if any, right now?

Vaccines recommended for many older adults include the flu vaccine, shingles vaccine, and pneumonia vaccine. COVID and RSV vaccines are also recommended. However, not everyone is the same, so be sure to have an honest conversation with your physician weighing the benefits and risks of each one.

Can we talk about my specific conditions and the prognosis for the next year?

Your annual exam is a review of your year, and it can also help you forecast the upcoming year. This is the time you can talk about your specific conditions, how things have been going as you have managed them, and what you might expect for the next 12 months.

For example, if you live with arthritis and have been managing your pain well with exercise and over-the-counter medications, talk about that. Or, you might need to talk about your increased pain and decreased mobility, along with talking about when might be a good time to get fitted for a cane or walker.

Are physical or occupational therapy visits right for me right now?

Most physical and occupational therapy offices require a prescription from a physician. Talk about the benefits of physical and occupational outpatient visits with your doctor and see if they are a good match for you to enhance independence, increase mobility, practice balance, or decrease pain.

Are there any mobility aids or adaptive devices that would help me reduce pain and stay independent?

If you’re struggling with walking from place to place in your home or community, or if certain activities of daily living are more challenging right now, talk to the doctor about it. They might have suggestions for mobility aids or devices that can help you.

Are medical alert devices right for me right now?

Medical alert systems are wonderful tools for providing peace of mind and support in case of an emergency. Speak to your physician about the benefits and if it is a good choice for you right now.

After the Appointment

doctor / patient consultation

Now that your annual appointment is complete, you might have a few tasks to take care of:
  • Make any recommended appointments for therapy visits, lab work, etc.
  • Schedule transportation to any follow up appointments as needed.
  • Fill in family members about your visit and recommendations.
  • Don’t be shy about calling the office after your appointment if you forgot to ask a question or if you are not clear on any instructions you might have received.

Annual exams are a crucial part of your health and wellness plan. Be sure you are making the most of them!

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