Here’s an uncomfortable truth that every family should be aware of:
You shouldn’t assume your doctor is providing you with optimal medical advice.
By optimal, I mean advice that is:
- Grounded in the most recent medical knowledge.
- Adapted to your preferences and values.
- Made after helping you consider the various options, along with their risks and benefits.
Doctors are generally trying their best. But it’s hard for a single person to keep up with all the latest knowledge, plus doctors tend to get into practice habits that aren’t necessarily in your best interest.
Are You Regularly Informed of Non-Drug Treatment Options?
Case in point: Although guidelines suggest that mild-to-moderate depression can initially be treated by either psychotherapy or by medication — because they are generally equally effective — many seniors are not informed of this. Instead, the tendency is usually for doctors to dash off a prescription.
Fortunately, it is possible to work around this problem in healthcare, so that you can get healthcare that better fits your older relative’s needs.
To help people recognize and address this common issue, I’ve written an article for NextAvenue.org:
“How to Get the Best Care from Your Doctor“
4 Steps You Can Take to Get Better Health Care
In this NextAvenue article, I explain in detail what an optimal medical recommendation should look like.
Then I share four steps you can take, to get better care from your doctors:
- Choose your doctors carefully.
- Do your homework, when it comes to health conditions and treatment options.
- Ask about alternatives.
- Consider a second opinion.
To get the tips in detail, read the full story at NextAvenue.org.
Remember: the more you learn about how healthcare works, the better you’ll be at getting what you need from the medical system.
By learning to get the right healthcare, and avoid the wrong healthcare, you’ll help your older loved one have better health, wellbeing, and quality of life.
Tom Powers says
You can also follow these suggests.
Avoid people who tell you herbs can cure illnesses
Avoid people who tell you vitamin therapy can cure serious illnesses
Avoid people who tell you that that stress causes pretty much everything
Don’t get medical advice from chiropractors (let them crack your back…that’s fine)
Try to go to the best ranked hospitals in the country…particularly teaching hospitals
Doctors should have some good credentials, and better if they are published or honored or leaders in some way, particularly in their field.
Get a great primary care doctor that can navigate your illness rather than just willy nilly jumping to specialist after specialist.
Nicole Didyk, MD says
Those are reasonable suggestions to consider if a person is in a position to make the choices you mention. In my experience, not everyone has the time and resources to seek out the best hospitals or providers, especially if an illness comes on suddenly.
I fully agree with looking at the evidence for any proposed treatment (including herbal and alternate therapies) and doing research into your medical team’s background.
Raymond Cooper says
I like how you point out that doing your own homework on treatment options is important. I feel like a lot of people don’t take their health seriously when it comes to this aspect of care. This is definitely a tip I’d be more willing to utilize in the future.
Lot’s of people have become and will continue to be way too trusting of a business or person due to the fact that they themselves don’t have the knowledge to fulfill a current need or desire. I’ve watched both of my grandmothers and grandfathers go through a number of different medical issues in which they would take a medication that a doctor would prescribe without looking for contradictions or healthier options for each situation. There is so much information available to us for free and we don’t even use it. Lets do some research then get multiple opinions, look for lots of contradictions and dig into our families history. When we go to the doctor, we would be equipped and able to tell them everything they could possibly need to know about us. When a person doesn’t know your past issues and patterns in life, there is no way for them to make a completely accurate assessment. Then, things end up getting worse or a whole new problem arises. The time it would take to do everything necessary for our health is far less than the time taken if you were to get more ill because at the end of the day, being a Doctor is their job… not their life.
Leslie Kernisan, MD MPH says
Yes, many people are fairly unquestioning of doctors. I think that is changing with the younger generation, and I’ve also been happy to see more and more older people asking questions as well.