Why Seniors Need Regular Medical Checkups

If you are an older adult, it is very important for you to regularly visit your primary care physician and go for screenings each year.

A check-up is where your doctor will most likely detect early signs of a disease or prevent a current illness from worsening. It is also important for you to feel comfortable speaking with your doctor.

You will be more likely to tell him or her about any new or exacerbated symptoms or important lifestyle changes that have occurred. You may then discuss your current medications and whether they need to be altered due to side effects or little to no improvement in your health.   

Most doctors will recommend that you make an appointment for a wellness check-up once per year. If you have a serious illness, your doctor may consider you high risk and request that you come in for more visits each year. Before each appointment, it is always a good idea to write down any questions you may have and a list of topics you want your doctor to weigh in on.

If you want to change your medication, you may also prepare for your appointment by keeping a record of when you experience symptoms and how you feel after each dosage of medication. Discover more about medical check-ups, screenings and lifestyle changes with our helpful tips.

The Importance of Visiting the Doctor on a Regular Basis as a Senior

If you frequently go to the doctor for medical exams, it is more likely that your physician will detect the early signs of illness and prescribe further testing. The earlier you catch a disease or condition, the more likely it is that your body will respond well to treatment and you will make a full recovery. This is because the treatment will not have to be as widespread or intense, which makes it easier on your body. Thus, regular wellness check-ups may give you the chance to live longer and improve your lifestyle.

You may need to get more than one check-up each year if you have a chronic illness, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Such diseases require more care and management because unexpected flare-ups and worsening symptoms may occur. If you have a chronic illness and you develop a new symptom, make sure to contact your doctor right away.

How to Prepare for An Appointment as a Senior

While it is not required, you may consider taking notes on your symptoms before you visit the doctor. This may help you keep track of when they occur and what might be causing or exacerbating them. If you are on multiple medications, a record may also help you and your doctor narrow down which drugs are causing adverse side effects.

Be sure to list any over the counter medications you take on a regular basis as well, because you may not know how those are interacting with your prescriptions. Another important way to prepare for your appointment is to make sure your health insurance is in order and that you bring in your health insurance card at the time of your appointment.

How to Discuss Your Current Medication with Your Doctor

Though your doctor will have a record of the medications you are currently taking and a general understanding of the side effects each may cause, he or she will need to know how you are responding to the medication.

If a prescription is not improving your health or even making things worse, your doctor must know. It is also recommended that you speak with him or her before taking a new medication, even if it is over the counter.

When to Speak with Your Doctor About Your Symptoms

Generally, doctors will advise you to notify them if you are experiencing new or worse symptoms due to an illness, or if one of your prescriptions is not improving your health.

It is important for you to mention anything that is new or has changed with your body or your health, even if it is small. Sometimes, small symptoms are the early signs of developing diseases.

Make sure you visit your doctor if you experience:

  • Memory loss.
  • Loss of focus.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fatigue.
  • Pain or stiffness.
  • Confusion.
  • Excessive thirst or hunger.
  • Frequent urination.

Your doctor may ask you when a symptom occurred or how frequently you experience this. He or she may also ask you to clarify certain details, such as how dizzy you get after standing, whether you experience stiffness after resting, if you constantly wake up at night to use the bathroom, or have trouble remembering certain events or people.

Your doctor may then require you to keep a record of this information. From there, he or she can determine whether you need further testing.

Which health screenings should you get as a senior?

If you are 65 years of age or older, your doctor will recommend certain screenings which are designed to catch illnesses before they snowball. This includes screenings for heart disease, diabetes, dementia, arthritis, cancer and others. You must be screened for some illnesses more often than others, depending on your case and whether you have genetic dispositions.

Implementing Changes in your Lifestyle

If your doctor diagnoses you with a disease or a condition in the early stages, he or she will likely recommend that you change certain aspects of your lifestyle. For instance, you may want to begin exercising regularly if you have just received a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

Your primary care physician may also ask about your day-to-day activities and whether you do anything strenuous. If so, he or she may recommend that you cut back on that activity. If it is becoming too difficult for you to perform certain activities, such as bathing or getting up from a chair, your doctor may recommend that you invest in accessibility devices, such as a self-rising chair or a handicap-friendly shower.

Being Aware of Your Mental Health

Your mental health may have a large impact on your physical health. If you experience depression, anxiety, excessive worry or fear, hallucinations or a feeling of hopelessness, your well-being will be negatively impacted.

Do not be afraid to mention any of these symptoms to your doctor, because they are more common than you may realize. Addressing them promptly may help improve your quality of life.