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Transcript: "What to Share with Your Doctor"

Albert Bahnfleth: He says he doesn't feel there's any particular concern.

Announcer: Talking about your health with your doctor means sharing how you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally. You should be willing to share information about your symptoms, your medications, your habits and lifestyle, sensitive subjects, other medical encounters, and other concerns. Your doctor needs to know about symptoms that are bothering you. For example, if you are having pain, difficulty sleeping, or problems walking, you should tell your doctor. Symptoms like these are not a normal part of aging.

Marie Bernard, M.D.: Sometimes people say to themselves, "Oh, I'm just getting old." Aging in and of itself doesn't cause aches and pains. There's usually a reason for that and you should share that new symptom with your doctor. Many times the doctor will focus on things that may not even cause symptoms like your high blood pressure or your diabetes. But you need to make sure the doctor knows if, for instance, your toe is bothering you or if you are having stomach pains or something of that sort.

Announcer: Your doctor also needs to know about all the medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and herbal remedies.

Alan Pocinki, M.D.: Another thing that's helpful for patients to bring with them is a list of their medications with a notation by the ones that they need new prescriptions for and on their list it's important to include medications they take without a prescription, vitamins, supplements, herbal, natural products, all those are important for the doctor to know that they are taking.

Announcer: To provide the best care, your doctor must understand you as a person and know what your life is like. 91-year-old Albert Bahnfleth easily shares information with his doctor about his daily life, including his exercise routine.

Albert Bahnfleth: I walk, I use free weights, and I use a rowing machine. And I do those exercises most days of the week for about 20 minutes to a half hour each day.

Announcer: Sensitive subjects like sexual or bladder problems are also important to discuss because they can affect your health.

Alan Pocinki, M.D.: No changes in your urinary symptoms at all... Albert Bahnfleth: No, no...

Alan Pocinki, M.D.: Do you still get up once or twice a night or...?

Marie Bernard, M.D.: There are two things I wish my older patients would share more readily or more easily with physicians. One is their sexual history. Many times people find that a very private thing that they don't wish to share. And the second is problems with bladder control. Many times people are having problems with that and they're ashamed, they're embarrassed or they think it is a usual part of aging.

Announcer: If you have had other medical encounters since your last doctor visit such as time spent in the hospital, the emergency room or with a specialist be sure to keep your primary care physician informed.

Albert Bahnfleth: As a matter of fact, I have an appointment with Dr. Phillips.

Alan Pocinki, M.D.: Oh, you do, okay.

Albert Bahnfleth: Just a routine visit. He'll inform you of the results. But I'll make a note so I do if he doesn't.

Announcer: Finally, so that the doctor can fully address your needs don't hesitate to voice any other concerns, even if you think they may be insignificant.

Alan Pocinki, M.D.: It really is important for the patient to speak frankly to say what's on their mind, to not be embarrassed, to really feel that nothing is out of play that whatever they think is relevant and important to their health or their quality of life is something that is going to be important to the physician too.

Announcer: Again, to get the most out of your doctor visit, be willing to share your symptoms, your medications, your habits and lifestyle, sensitive subjects, other medical encounters, and other concerns.

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