How To Get A Loved One To See The Doctor

Grandparents sitting on a sofa and helping their grandson to solve a puzzle( – Many of us disregard the importance of regular checkups. Some of us avoid doctor visits out of fear and others simply because it’s not part of our routine. When your loved one puts off seeing the doctor, a small health problem can become a more serious one. And some of the most serious health issues don’t always have obvious symptoms.

African-Americans face a higher risk of some serious health conditions, including diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, asthma and obesity. Therefore, it’s crucial to encourage friends and family to make an appointment for a checkup or screening.

Where You Come In

You may be the one person who can persuade your loved one to go to the doctor. Getting him or her through the door is the key. Doctors can assess someone’s health and well-being by asking basic questions about diet and lifestyle, and running some quick tests. Also, the doctor may be able to suggest behaviors or treatments to minimize serious health problems.

While it’s important for people of all ages to see a doctor regularly, people age 50 and over are more at risk for a host of medical conditions and should see a doctor at least once a year.

Here are just a few reasons you should take a loved one to the doctor:

• Help your loved one learn what he or she needs to do to get and stay healthy.
• Reassure the whole family about your loved one’s health.
• Use this as a reminder to see the doctor yourself.
• You might save a loved one’s life!

What If They Don’t Want To Go?

Even though your loved one trusts you, you might need to turn on your powers of persuasion to get him or her to agree to see a doctor. People have a long list of reasons for avoiding doctor visits. Don’t fight them on every point. Just ask them to do it for you and the rest of the family. Use “I” statements like, “Mom, I see you’re having trouble sitting down and standing up, and I’m concerned.” Tell them you want to enjoy their company for many more years to come, and this is one quick, easy step in helping to make that happen.

Before The Appointment

Preparing a little in advance will help your loved one get a lot more out of the doctor visit. Here are some suggestions for information that your loved one’s doctor will find useful. But remember: The most important thing is going to the doctor, so don’t worry if you cannot get all of this information together before the visit.

1. Questions for the doctor: Help your loved one take control of his or her health by making sure the doctor addresses all of your questions thoroughly. The best way to do this? Write the questions down in advance. See our sample list of questions.

2. Bring all medications your loved one is taking to the doctor. Doctors ask what medications the patient is taking. By bringing in the bottles, you won’t have to wonder if you remembered everything, and the doctor can see the dose and frequency of each drug.

3. Bring some health history information. Write down diseases, surgeries, family history of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc. You may want to review a list of tests and immunizations suggested for the age of your loved one.

At The Doctor’s Office

Your loved one may not want you to join him or her in the examination room. Do not insist on this. The person’s need for privacy should be respected. But do try to ensure that you and your loved one get all of your questions answered before the appointment ends.

If the doctor seems to be rushing through the appointment, be polite but firm in asking for more time for your loved one. Do not leave the doctor’s office until ALL of your questions are answered! A staff nurse or physician assistant may also be helpful in answering questions.

If you are in the examining room, take notes for your loved one. If not, urge him or her to write down the doctor’s answers to your questions and any special instructions on lifestyle and diet changes.

If the doctor orders follow-up tests — for example, blood tests for cholesterol, diabetes or other conditions — make sure you get clear instructions on how and where to do the tests and whether there are any out-of-pocket expenses. This will help make those tests go more smoothly for your loved one.

After The Appointment

Based on the doctor’s recommendations, new medications, daily exercises or changes in diet may be necessary for your loved one. These changes may seem small to you, but they can feel burdensome to many people. Be sensitive to your loved one and commit as much time as you can to help him or her meet health goals.

Let’s be real: Lifestyle changes can be hard. For example, it’s often not easy for people to start exercising. So start with the easy things. For example, most people can start walking more. Walking is easy, convenient and inexpensive. Nearly everyone can do it at any skill level, from grandparents to children. Plus, it has the lowest dropout rate and injury rate of all exercise programs. Also, studies show that people who have exercise partners — even if for a simple 10-minute walk a few days a week — stick with their exercise plans better than people who try to go it alone. So help your loved one find a neighbor or friend to walk with.

Everyone who commits to lifestyle changes slips up — whether it’s overeating, sneaking a cigarette, or skipping a day or two of exercise. That’s OK! We’re all human. The key is to get your loved one to focus on the long-term goal — a healthier lifestyle.

One easy way you can continue to help is by having frequent phone calls with your loved one — just a few minutes — to check in and ask how everything’s going. The most important step here is getting a loved one to a doctor. You can do it! Your loved one, and all of his or her other loved ones, will thank you!

Who Feels Pain More: Men Or Women?

woman putting on mascara( — Pain affects more than 116 million Americans annually and is a major cause of work disability and one of the most common reasons for taking medication, according to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report.

Of those Americans, about 50 million are women, according Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women.

Today, a new study in the Journal of Pain reports that women seeking medical care for a wide range of medical problems in the hospital or clinics at Stanford University School of Medicine reported higher pain intensity, on average, compared with men with these same diagnoses.

Women reported more intense pain than men in 14 of 47 disease categories. Men did not report more intense pain in any category. Women with musculoskeletal disorders such as back, neck and joint pain, sinusitis and even high blood pressure reported more intense pain then men with these conditions.

Authors cautioned that this study cannot determine whether pain is actually experienced more intensely by women or whether women simply communicate better with their health care providers about pain.

But many other medical experts are skeptical about the Stanford study. They say the authors didn’t account for the possibility that if many women had additional diseases that caused pain, it could actually be the other diseases, and not their gender, which is responsible for the women having more pain than men.

“It’s a flawed study,” said Dr. Lloyd Saberski, medical director of the Advanced Diagnostic Pain Treatment Centers at Yale University. “Just how accurate is the data collected? Probably not too accurate.”

He said the study was “dangerous” and potentially misleading and adds “nothing” to doctors’ understanding of pain. Researchers did not control for factors such as coexisting depression and disease severity, he said.

Dr. Timothy Collins, assistant clinical professor of neurology at Duke University Medical Center, said researchers should have added this caveat: “Men consistently report lower levels of pain compared to women.”

“At least in the US, there is a culture expecting men to complain less, not admit to as much pain, where women are generally allowed to express pain and emotions connected with pain,” he said.

Dr. Carol Warfield, chairman of the department of anesthesia, critical care and pain medicine at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center agreed the study was interesting, but a “big point” was missed.

“There have been a number of reports indicating that in our society stoicism is often considered virtuous, especially in men,” she said. “Therefore, men may be less likely to report high levels of pain even if they perceive them. In other words, men and women may experience the same levels of pain but women are more likely to actually admit that they have pain.”

Does Communicating Emotion Help Or Hurt?

Studies have suggested that doctors do tend to treat women in pain differently than they do men.

Doctors will ask women more often questions such as, “Are you feeling emotional?” or “How are things at home?”

Mindy Meyer, a professional facilitator who has lived with complex regional pain syndrome and fibromyalgia for years, agrees.

“I don’t know if women actually feel pain more,” said the 45-year-old from Venice Beach, Calif. “If they test by putting you hand in an ice bucket and see how long you can keep it there, maybe women are smart enough to take it out sooner.”

“But how women and men communicate their pain is very different,” she said. “Women feel very connected to their pain and have and their emotions come out when describing it.”

Meyer saw 13 doctors before she got a proper diagnosis and the majority were men. “It’s very uncomfortable for them to see real emotion: ‘Tell me the facts, ma’am, just the facts.’ I see them tune out.”

Now, she consciously spares the doctor the emotional talk. “I can literally be in so much pain I am crying when the staff is in there, but I pull it together when the doctor is in the room and have no tears at all. And it’s not easy to have to do that.”

She said doctors need to listen more to their female patients — “feelings are a part of the equation. Patients shouldn’t have to shut things down.”

For Grace

The perceived need for better treatment of women in pain has led to the creation of For Grace, an advocacy organization that educates, supports and empowers women in pain through annual conferences and legislative outreach.

For Grace’s “Fail First” bill recently got through the California State Assembly’s appropriations committee on a 12-5 vote. If signed by the governor, it will allow women in pain much better access to pain medications, bypassing insurance companies.