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Healthy Aging and your Primary Care Physician

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Healthy Aging and your Primary Care Physician by Dr. Jeff Stone, Lead Physician, Southeast Medical Group

I now live in a ’55 and Up’ community where many retirees struggle to navigate the medical industry with the complexity of Insurance, physician networks and specialists. The last two years of the Covid Pandemic have eroded trust in the medical institutions and faith in many medical providers. A 2023 Gallup poll shows that the most trusted professions in America are nurses, doctors and pharmacists but all 3 have seen a dip in their trust and among the lowest scores in years of testing. The most engaged specialties with the highest trust scores are in Primary Care.

Navigating the Medical Systems and employing a trained professional ‘captain’ ensures smoother sailing. A physician that advocates for you is the ideal and the best advocate is one who knows you well. However, this is a two-way street and requires an engaged patient willing to participate in their own care. An engaged patient in a good relationship with their physician results in lower costs and better outcomes.31 studies reveal disappointing results for the unengaged.50% of Medicare patients don’t bring a written list to their physicians.60% of patients don’t tell their doctors they have allergies unless they’re specifically asked. 30% of patients don’t compare their doctor’s prescriptions with what they get from the pharmacist. 61% of patients don’t keep a personal file of their medical records. Advocates can also be a close loved one with knowledge of the patient and with some paramedical skills. I always invite family members to attend the visits with our seniors. (Two heads are better than one!)

Get your facts from a reliable source. That does not include The University of Facebook, or other social media. The internet is a wonderful and terrible place to navigate. For plain language and good advice, seek Familydoctor.org, Mayoclinic.org, cdc.gov and others your Primary Care Advocate can tell you about including some clever, precise APP’s for your phone with advice and tracking for many health and disease states. Don’t be afraid to ask your Primary Care Advocate what standard bearer they use when treating or advising you. If they can’t cite you the source, it’s Ok to be skeptical.

The key to your success at the next office visit to your doctor is anticipation. Make a reasonable problem list (I recommend a limit of 3 of what bothers you the most and let the ‘front desk’ know you have it). Expect you’ll be handed a plan and be sure it’s recorded. If you don’t have ‘Advanced Directives’, the so called ‘Do not resuscitate’ orders then at least discuss it with family and your doctor.

You can build resilience and reassurance to face the challenges of life with a team of professionals led by your Primary Care Doctor. It may take time and some engaged effort on your part but with that, more comfort and confidence to adapt with aging.


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