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Understanding the Value of Your Annual Wellness Visit

Your annual wellness visit is the ideal time to check in with your doctor about the best ways to take care of your health. As you age, you may need some new tests. Others may no longer be required. This is just one topic on your list to discuss when you meet with your doctor. Here’s how to make sure you are prepared when you arrive at the office.

Lady physician talking to a male patient

  • Write down your questions in advance: bring the list with you. This ensures that you don’t forget to mention something important.
  • Bring a digital recorder: ask your doctor if it’s OK to record the visit. It can be helpful to go back and listen again to the doctor’s recommendations when you have time to think more clearly.
  • Bring someone with you: you can ask a loved one to sit in on the visit with you. Your friend or relative can serve as an advocate.
  • Bring your health records: bring copies of your personal health records. This is important if this is your first visit or if it’s been a while since you saw this doctor. Let your doctor know about any other health care providers you see. You might also want to bring information about the health of your close family members. Certain diseases and conditions run in families. For example, if a brother, sister, parent, or adult child has been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, your doctor may want to add that information to your file.
  • Bring a list of your medications and supplements: let your doctor know what medicines you take each day. Make sure to include vitamins, herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, teas, supplements, and prescription medications from all doctors you see. If it’s too much for you to write down, bring them all in a paper bag to show your doctor.
  • Talk about any changes you’re experiencing: mention any new sensations, signs, or symptoms that you’ve been having. You should also bring up any significant changes in your life, such as the death of a loved one, retirement, or a change in lifestyle. These might have an impact on your health. Even difficult topics, such as changes in sex or bathroom habits, can and should be discussed with your doctor.
  • Ask about your numbers: this is a good time to check in on your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, weight, body mass index, heart rate, and any other “numbers” that your doctor has been watching. Ask what you need to do to keep these measurements in healthy ranges.
  • Ask about screenings: certain health screenings, such as those for the prostate, breast, and colon, are recommended for older adults. If your doctor doesn’t mention them, ask whether you should be screened during this visit or in the next few years.
  • Get needed immunizations: you should be vaccinated against the flu and whooping cough, or pertussis. The shingles and pneumonia vaccines may also be on your preventive health list. Ask your doctor about them.
  • Discuss any changes in your abilities: sometimes it’s hard to face the changes that age brings, but bringing them up early may help your doctor treat them more effectively. If you’re having problems with daily activities for any reason, such as pain in your joints, memory problems, or difficulty seeing clearly, let your doctor know.

Dr. Evelyn Magsino-BacutaAbout Dr. Evelyn Magsino-Bacuta

Dr. Evelyn Magsino-Bacuta specializes in Internal Medicine. She received her medical degree from the University of the Philippines in Manila. She completed her medical residency at Mercy Hospital (State University of New York Buffalo). Dr. Magsino-Bacuta joined the Medical Staff at West Jefferson Medical Center in 2004. She is fluent in Tagalog.