It’s not always easy to convince a loved one to seek care. Two experts from Keck Medicine of USC offer guidance on how to approach your conversation.
People who avoid doctors and hospitals may feel afraid, embarrassed or distrustful. In some cases, it can be challenging to convince a friend, partner or family member to go — even if they’re sick.
Two specialists from Keck Medicine of USC offer their advice in The Big Question.
Leslie Korostoff, MD, chair of OB/GYN, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital
Always remind your friend or family member that their health is important because they are important.
Try to learn what would motivate them to be healthy. Do they want to start a family? What accomplishments do they want to achieve? How about any dreams they want to make a reality?
If your friend or family member is experiencing concerning health symptoms, stress to them that they don’t want to dismiss it. It’s always better to check with a health care professional.
“Always remind your friend or family member that their health is important because they are important.”
Leslie Korostoff, MD
If what they’re experiencing is normal, they’ll get peace of mind. If not, they can get treated.
Some people avoid even routine visits because they’ve had a bad experience. Empower your loved one by encouraging them to ask questions and to self-advocate.
If they feel unheard or uncomfortable, they have the right to set boundaries, and they can leave at any time.
Finally, help them find a doctor who practices sensitive care. This should include having an assistant in the room to advocate for the patient and make sure they feel safe and comfortable.
Christine Hsieh, MD, colorectal surgeon, USC Colorectal Surgery Program
Many of my patients come in with problems like incontinence. Most have suffered for years or even decades. It usually comes from feelings of shame, fear and isolation.
If you suspect a problem, start by talking to your loved one. Make sure they feel safe and comfortable talking about their symptoms.
Let them know they’re not alone. If you’ve been through something similar, tell them.
“Frame the visit as an information-gathering session. A patient’s mind can jump to the worst conclusions, which could make them even more scared to go.”
Christine Hsieh, MD
You can offer to help carry the load. You might make your own appointment and say, “You know what? I’m scheduling my checkup with this doctor. Do you want to see if we can get in around the same time? Then we could go together.”
Frame the visit as an information-gathering session. A patient’s mind can jump to the worst conclusions, which could make them even more scared to go.
If a serious issue is suspected, the best thing to do is research the least invasive treatments.
Then say something like, “If you’re worried, I get it. Treatments have come a long way, though, so let’s just go and find out your options.”