Taking An Active Role In Your Health
Some people find becoming an active member of their own healthcare team challenging. Some may feel overwhelmed by all the information, test results, and treatment options. Others might not feel comfortable talking to their doctor at all.
If you or a loved one are struggling to find your place on your healthcare team or feel lost during appointments, there are some steps you can take. It is possible to make the most of your time with your doctor. These tips may also help you step into a more active role when it comes to choosing treatments and managing symptoms.
Take notes and pay attention
When your doctor is talking about confusing test results or treatment options that have unfamiliar names, it is easy to zone out or feel overwhelmed. However, taking notes during your visit may help you remember more details from your appointment and pay closer attention.
If you cannot take notes or do not feel comfortable doing this while your doctor is talking, it may be a good idea to ask a friend or family member to come with you. They can take notes while you focus on what your doctor is saying. You can also ask your doctor to record your discussion on your phone so you can listen again later.
Do some research and ask follow-up questions
After your appointment, you may think of more questions or want to learn more about a topic your doctor mentioned. You can perform a quick internet search or check in with a support group. Both of these actions may help you find out more about issues that you are confused or concerned about.
However, it is important to remember that an internet search can lead to many results, and not all websites are accurate. Major resources such as the American Optometric Association or other medically reviewed sites generally have reliable and easy-to-understand information. Other options include this site, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, or Mayo Clinic.
As you are doing research, you may find you have more questions than when you started. Make sure to write down any questions you have. Then, bring those questions to your next doctor’s appointment so you can discuss what your concerns during your visit.
Ask for different options and more time
In some cases, there may only be 1 treatment option that is right for you and there may not be much of a choice to be made. In other cases, your doctor might be deciding between several treatment options with different side effects and costs.
Ask your doctor if there is more than 1 treatment option possible for you. Ask if you can help decide between them based on what you are looking to get out of treatment or can afford. For example, if you know you want to avoid a specific side effect, ask your doctor if there are any medicines that might reduce the chances of that side effect.
If your doctor gives you treatment options to choose from, it is okay to ask for time to decide. You do not need to make a decision on the spot. You can go home and do some more research. You can ask friends or support group members what their experiences have been. You can use that information to help make your decision later.
Talk directly and openly with your doctor
Some people with chronic dry eye may feel like they cannot talk openly to their doctor. Let your doctor know about any fears you have about their perception of you, treatments, or the future. This can help keep lines of communication open and build mutual respect between you.
Creating a high level of respect and setting goals for your care may help ease conversations later on and allow you to take on a more active role on the team. It is important to remember that if your doctor does not make you feel valued or heard, you can always seek a second opinion or a new doctor (if possible).
Which barrier below prevents you from receiving better chronic dry eye treatment? (Select all that apply)