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Are you comfortable talking with your physician and nurse? Knowing what questions to ask and how to make the most of the limited time you have with health-care providers can help you maintain good health and wellness well into your retirement years.

The National Women's Health Information Center, Fairfax, Va., recommends that you:

    * Make a list. Before your appointment, jot down any questions or concerns.

    * Describe symptoms. When did they start? What triggers them? What makes you feel better?

    * Be honest. Share information about your diet, physical activity, smoking, drug—prescribed and otherwise—and alcohol use.

    * Give an allergy update. And mention if you're being treated by another doctor.

    * Don't hold back. Talk about sensitive topics and get answers to all your questions, including those related to test results.

    * Be proactive. Ask about lifestyle changes and recommended treatment options, and how long treatments will last. Ask about side effects and cost. And ask if the treatment is covered by your insurance.

    * Bring a family member or friend. Have someone else take notes, offer moral support, and help you remember key information from the discussion.

Published July 30, 2008

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