Critter Corner: Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor

Dear Angel,

Every year when I go for my annual checkup or a sick visit, I leave feeling uninformed. Maybe I don’t ask the right questions. What are some things that you recommend that seniors ask their doctor?


Wanda Knowmore


Dear Wanda,

Many of us make a mental list of questions to ask the doctor, but then we forget about them when we arrive.

Often in our haste to be cured, we fail to ask doctors questions. Doctors say they wish their patients would be more proactive and ask these questions during their visit.

To help you make the most of your doctor’s undivided attention, and leave your appointments feeling empowered rather than uninformed, here are some good questions you can use as a starting point to take to your next visit.

Regular checkups:

Regular checkups ensure you are healthy, but they also offer you the opportunity to discuss any concerns. Here are a few questions you may want to ask:

– Are there any vaccines I should receive, such as vaccines for the flu, pneumonia or shingles?
Vaccines help prevent viral infections, which can lead to serious complications.

-Do you recommend any vitamins or supplements?
Most vitamins and minerals can be consumed through a well-rounded, healthy diet. But since every person’s lifestyle and diet is different, your doctor may recommend that you take extra vitamins or supplements.

-Is there anything you would like me to work on or focus on before our next visit?
Your doctor may be concerned about your weight, your activity level or any number of issues. This opens the door to discussing any preventive measures you may be able to take.

Appointments when you are ill or concerned:

These types of appointments can be stressful because you’re looking for answers and just want to feel better. When people are stressed, they may forget to ask questions until it’s too late. Here are a few inquiries to use as a guideline for discussion:

-What do you think may be causing my problem?
This question is different from “What is my diagnosis?” Some doctors may tell you what is wrong, but not what may have caused it. This helps you better understand your situation and prevent a relapse.

What Internet resources can I trust for medical information? Anyone with a blog can give out information and advice on medical issues. Ask your doctor about what sites he trusts, so when you inevitably Google your symptoms, you’re not being lied to. Information is important, but accurate and reliable information is far more important.

Are there any alternative treatment options? There may be other ways to treat your illness. Find out your options and discuss with your doctor the best treatment for your needs. But be aware that many physicians are not open to “alternative” or “integrative” or “holistic” approaches to healing. This is where “Dr. Google” sometimes is your best option. Just always be alert for scams and fraudulent cures.

Will this treatment be affected by or have an effect on medications I am already taking? If you see more than one doctor, it’s possible that they are not aware of other treatments you are undergoing. It’s important that all your doctors are in the loop so they don’t prescribe you something that will negatively react with another drug or treatment.

-What can I do to prevent this from happening again? Getting over your sickness is great, but what would be better is to make sure you don’t suffer the same problem again. While many doctors will inform patients of preventive measures unsolicited, it’s always a good idea for patients to bring it up. Your doctor can help you strategize to be more proactive about your health.

-How many patients like me have you treated?
Having confidence in your doctor means you’re more apt to follow his or her instructions. Asking about their previous experience with your condition is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the best treatment you can.

What should I do if I feel worse? If you experience side effects from a treatment or your illness gets worse, you need to know what to do or where to go.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a great starting point for developing a good rapport with your doctors, which is really important. The better you communicate with your doctors, the more comfortable you’ll all feel in the future. Hope this is helpful!


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.