Speaking with your Doctor Should Be a Two Way Conversation

When you have your check-up, how much talking are you doing? Often many people keep quiet and don't say much. Often, the doctor speeds through the appointment. Be proactive with your health and use your time wisely.

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Speaking with your Doctor Should Be a Two Way Conversation
5 Min Read April 19th, 2018 Updated:October 12th, 2022

When was the last time you went to the doctor? Hopefully, within the last year or so, but when you did go, did you have a conversation? Often many people just answer the questions and just listen. Plus, many doctors don't say much, either. This leads to a very quick check-up, and you are out of there!

David J. Rothman, who studies the history of medicine at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, says there is not much time available to have much conversation.

Doctors have one eye on the patient and one eye on the clock.

When there is little dialogue between patient and doctor, as studies show, there is a more significant chance the patient will leave the office frustrated. Perhaps more important, it could be a detriment to your health.

Better Communication Leads to Better Health Outcomes

Is this really the best way your check-up should be conducted? Your ability to ask questions will lead to better communication with your doctor. It will also lead to better health as the doctor only knows what you share. A more complete conversation can draw out your concerns and symptoms, leading to a better diagnosis and treatment for serious or simple things.

Many doctors are pushed to see more and more patients. Many clinics allow only 15 minutes for each patient for a routine check-up. As a patient, you are also the consumer. The doctor may attempt to speed through your appointment, but you should try to ask questions and share concerns.

While you can be frustrated with the communication during your doctor's visit, don't avoid seeing the doctor in the first place. Even if you think you are in "outstanding" health, an annual physical, including lab work, is essential to your long-term health and well-being. Waiting until you have "symptoms' could be too late. 

Lab Work - Key to the Check-Up Process

Lab work usually includes a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP). The CMP provides essential information about your body's chemical balance and metabolism. The CMP will consist of several tests like glucose and creatinine. There are 14 different substances in your blood that a CMP will review.

A lipid panel will test your cholesterol. Men will get a PSA (prostate-specific antigen), a protein produced by normal and malignant cells of the prostate gland. Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms. A bone density test will assess your bone strength and determine if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia. 

If the doctor is not ordering routine tests yearly, ask why.

See Your Doctor

When you have your check-up, be sure to answer all the questions they ask, often by the nurse, before seeing the doctor. It is a good idea to tell the nurse everything in advance, even though you will probably have to repeat everything. Don't be afraid to tell your doctor everything. They have heard it all! 

Write down a list of questions and concerns before your appointment. Older adults might consider bringing a family member or friend (hopefully younger) to their appointment. 

If you don't have a doctor, there are several ways to find one. Here are a few strategies to help you in your search: 


  • Seek recommendations from family, friends, or colleagues who have had positive experiences with their general doctors. Personal referrals can often be a reliable way to find a trustworthy physician.
  • Consult your insurance provider for a list of in-network general doctors.
  • Consider checking online reviews and ratings of doctors in your area.


Websites and platforms dedicated to healthcare reviews can provide insights into the experiences of other patients.

There are online directories worldwide. For example, if you live in Dubai or are there on vacation or on business, you can find a doctor for regular check-ups from ArabiaMD.

Use Your Time With the Doctor Wisely

During your visit with the doctor, be sure to have a complete conversation with them. When you don't ask your doctor questions, they will assume you don't have any problems to discuss, have no questions or concerns, or don't need additional information. 

When it comes to doctor-patient communication, women have an advantage, says Debra Roter, Dr.P.H., a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who has studied doctor-patient interactions and communication dynamics for more than 40 years.

Women tend to talk more in medical visits; they ask more questions, and they're more likely to talk about aspects of their daily lives, their lifestyles, their feelings, and emotions. All of these things are part of what she calls patient-centered communication, and they help doctors tailor advice and treatment.

Doctors are Not Mind Readers 

Doctors cannot read your mind. As you age, this complete communication is even more critical. The National Institute on Aging suggests you ask questions when you don't know the meaning of a word (like an aneurysm, hypertension, or infarct) or when instructions aren't clear (for example, does taking medicine with food mean before, during, or after a meal?).

If your doctor is ordering tests, ask them the reason for the test and if additional testing may be required depending on the outcome.

Questions to Ask About Medical Tests

  • Why is the test being done?

  • What steps does the test involve? How should I get ready?

  • Are there any dangers or side effects?

  • How will I find out the results? How long will it take to get the results?

  • What will we know after the test?

Once you get a diagnosis, ask questions like what may have caused your condition and how it will be treated. You should ask if treatment will "cure" you or only manage your condition. What kind of impact will this condition have on your life and lifestyle? Will any additional treatment be required if the recommended treatment does not work?

Read more about how to communicate with your doctor here: What Should I Ask My Doctor During a Check-up? | National Institute on Aging 

Better Health Leads to Longevity- Are You Prepared?

Longevity results from advances in medical science and people taking good care of their health. As we age, our health will start to decline. This is normal even if you are taking excellent care of your health. 

With longevity comes aging problems. This is why longevity requires an advanced plan. The financial costs and burdens of aging will impact you, your family, your savings, and your lifestyle. So, what is your plan?

Who will take care of you? Which daughter or daughter-in-law would be responsible? How would that impact their life, career, family, and their own health and well-being? The fact is caregiving is very hard on family members. Paid professional care will drain savings and adversely impact income.

These are questions you should ask yourself before you get older and experience declining health. You usually don't start planning for your retirement after you retire. The same can be said about preparing for changing health and possible long-term health care. 

Long-Term Care = Cash Flow Problem and Family Problem

Long-term care is both a cash flow problem and a family problem. Long-term care costs are exploding nationwide. These costs are not cheap today; imagine what they will be in 25 years.

LTC NEWS can help you see what these costs will be in the decades ahead. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator is an outstanding tool that shows you the current and future cost of care services where you live.

Which account would you liquidate first when you need to pay for care at home or in a facility? Who will make those decisions? How would that affect your lifestyle and that of your spouse? How would the draining of your savings impact your ability to have a successful retirement and leave some legacy to children and grandchildren?

Solution? It Could Be LTC Insurance

Long-Term Care Insurance is easy and affordable income and asset protection. It is much more than just asset protection. The burdens placed on family members due to your future aging can be very detrimental to your extended family and their family. This is why adding an affordable Long-Term Care policy to your retirement plan before retirement will safeguard savings and reduce the burden on loved ones. 

Act before you retire for the most affordable options. Most people obtain coverage in their 50s when they can enjoy lower premiums, and good health allows for the most available options. 

See how much Long-Term Care Insurance costs by clicking here.

Be sure to seek the help of a Long-Term Care specialist when gathering information and shopping for coverage. Most financial advisors and general insurance agents don't have the experience or expertise in this area. 

Like the doctor, use your time wisely with a Long-Term Care Insurance specialist. Be sure to listen but ask questions. Be sure to share with the specialist your health and family history; this will be important for them to know when selecting an insurance company and making recommendations. 

Also, ask lots of questions. If you hear more of a sale pitch and not reliable information, start asking more questions. Because of federal regulation, there are more similarities than differences between policies as long as the policy meets federal guidelines. Insurance companies must file their products and pricing with each state's insurance department before being allowed to sell them in that state. No insurance agent can offer you special deals.

You are the consumer with your doctor and with any financial professional. It is up to you to be proactive and take positive action for your health and well-being. The same goes for preparing for a successful retirement. Long-term care planning is a vital part of any retirement plan.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

Aging happens, and the consequences can dramatically change a caregiver's everyday life. Now, do you want to place this responsibility on your children decades from now? Most every survey suggests most people do not want to be a burden on their family. However, have you done anything to avoid that from happening?

You deserve quality care, and your family deserves the time to be family instead of becoming your future caregiver. The solution is affordable Long-Term Care Insurance.

You might think it is too expensive. The truth is most people find it very affordable, but most insurance agents and financial advisors are not skilled at finding and designing appropriate coverage. Premiums vary dramatically between insurance companies, and policies are custom designed.

In many ways, LTC Insurance is 401(k) insurance, but it is much more than that. Long-Term Care Insurance shields your loved ones and finances against the expenses and hassles of aging and failing health. Your loved ones can remain family and not become caregivers.

Most people obtain coverage in their 50s when premiums are much lower, and their health gives them more options. An LTC Insurance specialist will work with all the top companies and understands underwriting, policy design, and claims - Work With a Specialist.

 Tools and Resources Available on LTC NEWS

There are a variety of tools and resources that LTC NEWS offers that can help you in your research:

  • The Ultimate Long-Term Care Insurance Guide - If you like details, you will enjoy this comprehensive guide to LTC Insurance. 

  • Long-Term Care Guides  - LTC NEWS has several other guides that can help you plan or find quality care.

  • Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State - You can find the current and future cost of long-term health care services where you live.

  • Frequently Asked Questions - Get the answers to the most often asked questions about long-term health care planning and LTC Insurance.

  • Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim - Does a loved one - like your Mom or Dad - have a Long-Term Care Insurance policy and need to file a claim to get benefits? LTC NEWS will help. If they don't have a policy, but you need help in getting a plan of care and finding caregivers, LTC NEWS can also assist.

  • Reverse Mortgages - Learn about reverse mortgages and ask questions about how they work and if you or a loved one would benefit from one.

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