Take Charge of Your Health—Get Regular Check-ups

In the midst of our active senior schedules it’s easy to procrastinate on some of the things we should do to maintain good health. There are lots of reasons for that, the expense of check-ups, the inconvenience, a schedule that is too full and more. Let’s review some reasons those check-ups are important.

Why Get an Annual Health Check-up?

 

Many of us are lucky enough to have annual physical check-ups as a pre-paid part of our health coverage. But even if it costs extra, we should all get in to see a primary care physician at least once a year. These screenings are our first line of defense against illnesses that can be either nipped in the bud or prevented altogether. In a simple physical your blood pressure and heart will be checked and appropriate tests ordered to screen for such things as diabetes, colorectal problems and any other problems you may have in your family history or that your age and lifestyle choices deem necessary. You’ll have a chance to talk with your doctor about any conditions that are an issue for you.

Be Pro-active

If you’re wise enough to make and keep the annual appointment, you also should be assertive enough to go to the check-up with your homework done. What is your family history on cancer, diabetes or other ailments? How are you feeling and what do you want to address with the doctor in those brief ten or fifteen minutes you will have with him? Write down your questions and any other information you may be wondering about, because otherwise you will risk forgetting to discuss something that could be very important to your health somewhere down the road. Be ready to show the doctor the list of medications you are currently taking including any supplements and over the counter drugs you take. If there is anything at all worrying you about your health, this is the time to bring it up.

Every Day

 

There are simple steps you can take each day to improve or maintain good health. Here are some common sense tips for living a healthy lifestyle:

– quit smoking or refrain from taking up any tobacco habit

– wear safety gear appropriate to any activity—helmets for biking, seat belts in

the car, hearing protection when exposed to loud noises, etc.

– take appropriate vitamin supplements as per your doctor and eat a healthy diet

– take care to wash hands carefully

– protect against problem insect bites with repellants

– wear sunscreen when out of doors

– wear life jackets when engaging in water sports

– be sure your home has working smoke alarms

– get 30 minutes to one hour of exercise daily

– drink alcohol in moderation

Once a Year

 

Schedule and attend a general physical exam. Do any follow up tests your doctor recommends.

Your checklists: Here are two checklists for men and women to give you the information you need on the health screenings and check-ups you need to stay healthy. These are written and provided by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

for men: http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthymen.htm

for women:  http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthywom.htm