Mistake #8:  Not Seeking Medical Help After Early Warning Signs

The Problem:

Everyone knows they should call 911 for symptoms of a heart attack.  But many people will wait hours or days when having symptoms of a “brain attack” or stroke.  However, studies have shown that paralysis can be avoided or reduced by getting to the emergency room within four hours of the onset of stroke symptoms.  Obtaining prompt medical care can minimize other health problems. 

For example, seniors may delay seeing their doctor for such symptoms as heartburn, shortness of breath, and even skin lesions.  Heartburn may be the precursor to either a heart attack or bleeding from the stomach.  Shortness of breath can also be a symptom of heart attack, or it may include an acute illness like pneumonia.  And many skin lesions, if left untreated, may become worrisome skin cancers.  Sometimes seniors ignore symptoms because acknowledging them is frightening.  However, avoiding early warning signs is a recipe for more serious health concerns.

The Solution:

The solution is easy – promptly let your doctor know if you are having new symptoms, or if pre-existing symptoms are becoming worse.  Seniors can phone the doctor’s office and leave a message about symptoms, or better yet, schedule an appointment to see the doctor for a personal evaluation of symptoms.  If seniors are unsure whether a symptom is serious enough to report to their physician, they can consult a senior care manager for advice.