Talking with Your Doctor

Discussing Prevention

Making Lifestyle Changes

No matter what your age, you can make changes to prevent disease and improve your health. For instance, it is never too late to stop smoking, eat healthier foods, or start exercising. Also, going to your doctor, dentist, and eye doctor for regular checkups is important for your health.

During your visit, your doctor may ask you to do things to lower your risk for a health problem or manage a condition you already have. Research shows that changes like eating healthier and doing exercise can be good for your overall health. They can also help keep your current health problems from getting worse.


Many doctors now recommend that older people try to do some exercise every day. When you make your list of things to talk about with your doctor, you may want to include exercise. Your doctor may be able to tell you about exercises that can help you and exercises that you should not do.

For information about the types of exercises appropriate for older adults, visit the Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults topic at

If a certain disease or health condition is common in your family, ask your doctor if there is something you can do to prevent it. If you have a chronic disease (an ongoing health problem), ask your doctor how you can manage it and if there are things you can do to prevent it from getting worse.

Tell your doctor or his or her staff if you want to talk about things you can do to be healthier and prevent disease when you make your next doctor appointment. Letting your doctor know before your visit can help him or her plan to spend more time with you.

It is just as important to talk to your doctor about habits you can change to improve your health as it is to talk about medical treatments. Just like when you talk about treatment choices, it is important for you to know the benefits and risks of each possible lifestyle change.

Think about how changing your habits to prevent health problems will affect your everyday life. Tell your doctor if you think a prevention method will not work for you and explain why.

Also, ask your doctor if there are support groups or community services that can help you make the changes for your health. Your doctor can work with you to make a plan that best fits your needs.