Things Every Senior Should Discuss With Their Doctor

Date: Sep 8, 2022

One important way to maintain good health while aging is to create an open and honest relationship with your doctor. Sharing with your doctor what is important to you while also addressing your physical and personal challenges is critical to your health and safety.

Getting older doesn’t mean giving up your favorite activities. Having discussions with your loved ones and doctor about what is meaningful creates an understanding of what quality of life means to you. It is important to continue to enjoy an active lifestyle – traveling, participating in physical activities, like water aerobics, and meeting up with friends to play games, like Bridge.

While it is important to maintain a good quality of life, it is also critical to make sure you are safe while doing so. Part of your discussion with your doctor should include identifying what your physical limitations are and any barriers to performing your activities of daily living. It is important to mention if you experience any falls, changes in vision, or complications from any chronic conditions, such as heart, neurologic or musculoskeletal disease.

Maintaining regular wellness visits or follow-up exams with your primary care physicians gives you the opportunity to have these discussions with your doctor and open up a dialogue about what is important to you with a focus on keeping you healthy and active. Talk to your doctor about what quality of life means for you so that you can create a safe way to keep doing what you love to do.

1. Osteoarthritis

Sore, stiff or painful joints are often a sign of osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis affecting older adults. Common joints affected by osteoarthritis include the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

It is important to share with your doctor if you are having pain in any of these joints to rule out other diseases that may mimic the symptoms of osteoarthritis. You may need diagnostic tests, such as an X-ray, to provide a clear picture and diagnosis of your condition.

If osteoarthritis is diagnosed, it is important for your doctor to understand how your joint pain is affecting your daily life. Working together with your primary care doctor, and possibly other specialists, such as a physical therapist and/or orthopedic specialist, can be instrumental in limiting your pain so that you can maximize your function and quality of life.

Therapies that you may discuss with your doctor and specialists can include, but are not limited to:

  • A healthy diet, with nutritional supplementation for healthy bones and joints
  • Medications, which may range from topical creams to over-the-counter and prescribed meds
  • Physical activity, including physical therapy and guided musculoskeletal training

2. Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. It can strike at any age, but the risk of developing coronary heart disease increases as we age. Older individuals are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic health conditions that can lead to heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Your doctor can discuss your risk of developing heart disease. Together, you can create a plan that helps you improve your heart health, which may include:

  • Eating a balanced diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein
  • Getting physically active
  • Limiting alcohol use
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing chronic health conditions
  • Quitting smoking

3. Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 1.9 million new cancer cases in the U.S. alone in 2022. Those statistics may sound scary, but advances in screening, diagnosis, treatment, and management are empowering more individuals to survive cancer. In fact, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates the number of cancer survivors is expected to increase to 22.2 million individuals in the U.S. by 2030, compared to 16.9 million in 2019.

One of the biggest risks for developing cancer is advanced age. The NCI found that the median age for a cancer diagnosis is 66 years.

You can manage your cancer risk with regular check-ups with your doctor. Today’s screening tests are effectively identifying and diagnosing cancer in its earlier stages – getting you the treatment you need for a better outcome.

Talk to your doctor about your cancer risk and what cancer screening test is right for you. If you notice any troubling symptoms, don’t wait for your annual exam – schedule an appointment today.

About Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 3,450 physicians in over 70 specialties, 425 locations and 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares, and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

Schedule your appointment today.

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