Senior Health - Choosing a Doctor
Mrs. Wiley had a big surprise the other day when she called her doctor to make an appointment. The receptionist told her that Dr. Horowitz was retiring at the end of the year. After all this time - after decades of flu, bladder infections, and that nasty broken wrist; after helping her through the menopause - now this desertion! Mrs. Wiley didn't know what she would do to try and find a new doctor.
Uncle Willy was grumbling to his nephew Matt. This new managed health insurance plan seemed like a good idea at first, but now he wasn't so sure. What's a primary care doctor anyway? Can't he just continue to see Dr. Bissell for his arthritis? Matt sighed wondering how he was going to help Uncle Willy find a whole new set of doctors.
Stories like these are becoming all too common. Finding good medical care can be tricky at any age but for older people this task may be even tougher. Yet, it is important to have a primary care doctor who knows you and all of your health problems. Even if you see other doctors for certain health conditions, for example, a heart specialist (cardiologist) for heart disease, your primary care doctor is needed to work with those specialists and coordinate all of your health care.
Choosing a doctor is one of the most important decisions anyone can make. The best time to make that decision is while you are still healthy and have time to really think about all your choices. If you have no doctor or are thinking of changing doctors, the following ideas may help you find a doctor who is right for you.
What Should You Look for in a Doctor?
Of course you want a doctor who is well trained and competent. A doctor who knows you well may be better able to help you prevent some health problems and manage those that do come up. In choosing a doctor some other things to think about are:
A good first step is to make a list of the things that matter most to you. Then, go back over your list and rank them in order of importance.
What Type of Doctor?
For your primary care doctor, you might want a general or family practitioner, an internist, or a geriatrician.