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Boomers & Beyond

WESTLAKE — Being honest with your physician is key in maintaining good health.

Pamela Bruney, a registered nurse and administrator for West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital's Home Health Agency, recently spoke at the Westlake Senior Activity Center about effective communication.

"It is difficult getting everything accomplished that you need to say in that short amount of time you have a physician at your disposal," she said. "So it's important to write down some of things you want to discuss with your doctor."

Bruney provided a list of issues that should be addressed at appointments.

At least once a year, bring all medications to an appointment. This includes all over-the-counter medications as well as herbal supplements.

"Some over-the-counter medication can interact with prescription meds," she said. "And just because an herbal supplement says ‘natural' does not always mean that it's safe."

Be honest about how much you smoke, drink or use illegal substances.

"Your doctor is not going to judge you," she said. "He's not going to give you a lecture. They know you know you need to quit smoking. When he knows what you're doing, he can better protect your health."

Let your doctor know if you are feeling stressed, depressed or abused.

"If you have any of those feelings, speak up," she continued. "Your doctor can provide advice or refer you to the right specialist or counselor and can also evaluate whether any medication or therapy would help you."

Be honest with your doctor about whether or not you are following doctor's orders. "Be honest about whether or not you are taking your medication as prescribed," Bruney said. "If you don't tell him, he may not know why you still have an infection or why your blood pressure is still too high and he may prescribe you more medicine."

Inform your doctor about any trouble with sleeping.

"Whether you can't get to sleep or can't stay asleep, tell your doctor," she said. "Insomnia can have a lot of consequences for your health."

Some causes for inability to fall asleep are watching television or a computer screen too close to bedtime, drinking alcohol before bed or exercising too close to bedtime, she said.

Let your doctor know if you are low on energy.

"Fatigue is a symptom of many illnesses and is not always age-related," Bruney said. "Let your doctor know if you are experiencing sudden, unusual fatigue."

Fatigue can be an indication of anemia, depression or thyroid problems, she said.

Tell your doctor about any hobbies you have.

"If you sit at a computer for long periods of time or play the piano, it may explain neck or back pain," she continued. "Or if you use a sewing machine. Anything with repetitive motion."

Also, hobbyists who build model planes in an area that isn't well-ventilated could be suffering from glue inhalation.

"Tell your doctor about any new symptoms," she advised.

Tell your doctor about any other doctor visits or hospital stays you've had since your last appointment. Bruney said primary care physicians rarely visit patients in the hospital. Rounds are now attended to by hospitalists, physicians who work in the hospital.

"Make an appointment with your primary care physician after a hospital visit," she said. "Sometimes you have to take control of your own care."

Home health care agencies can assist patients, recently released from the hospital, to better follow doctor's orders and take medications.

"They can help you navigate the system," she said. "Insurance companies are not letting people stay in the hospital as long as they sometimes need to. They are relying more and more on home health care agencies, because it takes less Medicare money to care for a patient in their home."

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