prevention, regular checkups, and prompt treatment play a key role in your
quality of life as you age.
Your grandparents' generation had few
protections from life-threatening conditions, but you now have the advantage of
immunizations and regular screenings. Screenings and immunizations may help you live a longer,
higher-quality life. But there comes a time when some screening tests won't be helpful, so talk to your doctor about which tests to have.
To learn more about recommended health screenings, see
Health Screening: Finding Health Problems Early.
For more information, see the
Interactive Tool: Which Health Screenings Do You Need?
Managing your health care
Be an informed health care consumer. When you are concerned about a medical condition,
read as much as you can about it and its possible treatments. Make a list of
unanswered questions and talk to your doctor about them. Explore all treatment
options before deciding how to treat a problem. And get at least one second
opinion if you're considering a surgery, medicine with dangerous side effects,
or experimental treatment.
For more information, see:
Be your own best health advocate. Make it your goal to work in
partnership with your doctors. In general, people who make health
decisions with their doctors are happier with the care they
receive and the results they achieve. It's important to share in every decision
about your health. The decisions you make influence your overall well-being as
well as the quality and cost of your care. Whenever you have a medical
- Bring your health and medicine history with
you, as well as a list of questions you want answered during your appointment.
- Make sure you understand your doctor's key points about your
health and any possible tests and treatments.
- You can bring along
a friend or family member to support you and help you remember key information
for later on. This can be especially useful when you're under a lot of physical
or emotional stress.
For more information about how to work in partnership
with a doctor, see:
Get organized. Feeling organized and in control of your health
care can be a challenge, especially when something comes up unexpectedly. Your
best approach to managing your health care is to get organized now—create a personal
medical information file, including an ongoing record of your:
- Health professionals' names and
- Medicines, herbal supplements, and vitamins. For each,
include the dosage, who prescribed it and why, and any side effects you have
had. Use this form. (What is a PDF document?)
- Any known allergies to medicines, foods, or insects (include
the type of allergic reaction).
- Symptoms, health conditions, and treatments. For each, jot
down dates and any details that you might easily forget. Use this form (What is a PDF document?).
- Exam and
- Emergency medical information, such as pacemaker use
or chronic disease diagnosis.
- Insurance policy and payment receipts.
For more information on how to organize your medical
information, see the topic
Organizing Your Medical Records.
Advance directives such as a living will and a medical
power of attorney can ensure that you will get the care you want if you become
physically or mentally unable to make your own medical decisions. A living will
states your wishes about your medical care. A medical power of attorney gives a
person you choose (your health care agent) the authority to make medical
decisions for you if you become unable to make these decisions for yourself. In
addition to putting your advance directives in writing, also be sure to clearly
communicate your choices to all family members who might be involved in your
health care in the future.
For more information, see: