HomeHealth & WellnessThings Every Senior Should Discuss With Their Doctor

Things Every Senior Should Discuss With Their Doctor

One important way to maintain good health while aging is to create an open and honest relationship with your doctor. Sharing with your doctor what is important to you while also addressing your physical and personal challenges is critical to your health and safety.

Getting older doesn’t mean giving up your favorite activities. Having discussions with your loved ones and doctor about what is meaningful creates an understanding of what quality of life means to you. It is important to continue to enjoy an active lifestyle – traveling, participating in physical activities such as water aerobics, and meeting up with friends to play games like Bridge.

While it is important to maintain a good quality of life, it is also critical to make sure you are safe while doing so! Part of your discussion with your doctor should include identifying what your physical limitations are and any barriers to performing your activities of daily living. It is important to mention if you experience any falls, changes in vision, or complications from any chronic conditions such as heart, neurologic or musculoskeletal disease.

Maintaining regular wellness visits or follow-up exams with your primary care physicians gives you the opportunity to have these discussions with your doctor and open up a dialogue about what is important to you with the focus to keep you healthy and active. Talk to your doctor about what quality of like means for you so that you can create a safe way to keep doing what you love to do!

1. Osteoarthritis

Sore, stiff or painful joints are often a sign of osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis affecting older adults. Common joints affected by osteoarthritis include the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

It is important to share with your doctor if you are having pain in any of these joints to rule out other diseases that may mimic the symptoms of osteoarthritis. You may need diagnostic tests, such as an X-ray, to provide a clear picture and diagnosis of your condition.

If osteoarthritis is diagnosed, it is important for your doctor to understand how your joint pain is affecting your daily life. Working together with your primary care doctor, and possibly other specialists such as a physical therapist and/or orthopedic specialist can be instrumental to limiting your pain so that you can maximize your function and quality of life.

Therapies that you may discuss with your doctor and specialists can include, but are not limited to:

  • A healthy diet, with nutritional supplementation for healthy bones and joints
  • Medications, which may range from topical creams to over-the-counter and prescribed meds
  • Physical activity, including physical therapy and guided musculoskeletal training

2. Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. It can strike at any age, but the risk of developing coronary heart disease increases as we age. Older individuals are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic health conditions that can lead to heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Your doctor can discuss your risk of developing heart disease. Together, you can create a plan that helps you improve your heart health, which may include:

  • Eating a balanced diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein
  • Getting physically active
  • Limiting alcohol use
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing chronic health conditions
  • Quitting smoking

3. Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 1.7 million new cancer cases in the U.S. alone in 2019. Those statistics may sound scary, but advances in screening, diagnosis, treatment, and management are empowering more individuals to survive cancer. In fact, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates the number of cancer survivors is expected to increase to 20.3 million individuals in the U.S. by 2026, compared to 15.5 million in 2016.

One of the biggest risks for developing cancer is advanced age. The NCI found that the median age for a cancer diagnosis is 66 years.

You can manage your cancer risk with regular check-ups with your doctor. Today’s screening tests are effectively identifying and diagnosing cancer in its earlier stages – getting you the treatment you need for a better outcome.

Talk to your doctor about your cancer risk and what cancer screening test is right for you. If you notice any troubling symptoms, don’t wait for your annual exam – schedule an appointment today.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares, and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

Request an Appointment or call us at 404-778-7777.

About Dr. Footman

Eleni Footman MDEleni Footman, MD, began her studies by completing a bachelor’s degree in Health Science at the University of Florida. Following her collegiate studies, she completed two years of post-baccalaureate clinical research at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with a focus in Sickle Cell Disease. In 2009, she transitioned to Georgetown University School of Medicine for her medical degree. She participated in the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 2013 where she explored how end-of-life and advanced care planning was approached by Internal Medicine residents in their ambulatory clinic settings. Following this, she completed a three-year Internal Medicine residency at INOVA Fairfax Medical Campus in Fairfax, VA. She completed her medical training at New York Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell where she obtained training for her Geriatric Medicine fellowship. She now works as an outpatient Geriatrician with Emory Healthcare and as a house call physician as part of the Emory Domiciliary Care program.

Her professional interests include caring for and advocating for seniors in the clinical setting but also in the community and at the home setting with a long term professional interest in house call medicine and domiciliary care. She is very passionate about keeping seniors as functional as possible with an emphasis on fall prevention. She enjoys being an advocate and support for families and caregivers and, most importantly, aims to optimize the quality of life for each of her patients.


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