After a trip to the doctor’s office yesterday, I was thinking how important a visit to the doctor is for those who are elderly or are questioning unexplained symptoms. You can live the healthiest lifestyle on your block, but it is still important that you know when a doctor’s visit is in order so that you can get your questions answered. Your doctor can often identify the cause of your symptoms or order tests for further investigation and possible treatment.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider setting up an appointment to visit a primary health provider and a typical schedule after that initial exam.
Initial visit. In the best case scenario, it is very important for seniors to choose a doctor who will see them safely through the latter years of their life. However, that can’t always happen. Sometimes a necessary move out of the area take seniors from one of the most important people in their life. At the very least it is disappointing if they have come to trust their physician, but can be a traumatic experience if they have had the same physician for many years.
At the initial visit, you not only get to know a little bit about your new physician, but he or she can get to know you and your health concerns. Depending on your symptoms, they may do further tests to set a baseline and to see if you have any conditions or diseases that need further attention.
Annual checkup. If you take good care of yourself, eat right, and exercise on a regular basis, you should only need to see your primary care physician once a year for an annual checkup. Complete physicals, routine dental visits and eye exams are examples of times when you would want an annual checkup.
If you have a condition or disease that necessitates a follow-up visit to see how you are doing on your medication or following treatment, you may find you need to visit the doctor on a semi-annual or quarterly schedule, if not more often depending on the seriousness of the condition.
Every two or three months. People who have been diagnosed with diabetes or heart problems, for example, often are seen every two or three months to check on their progress and to see how their medications are doing. This also allows the physician to tweak medications or verify whether referral to a specialist is required.
For example, diabetics need to see a podiatrist every couple of months to get their toenails clipped and check on the condition of their feet. Because diabetics often lose feeling in their feet, they don’t always know when there is reason for concern. If they want to make sure they don’t start losing toes or more, they must keep regular visits.
Monthly visits. People who have serious health concerns often visit their physician on a monthly basis. This way the doctor can keep an eye on their progress and make any changes in medication that may be needed. They can also watch for conditions that would require a specialist or further testing. Many seniors and those who are seriously ill visit their primary care physician quite frequently.
Routine appointment. If you are experiencing symptoms that are not normal for you, but you believe they are not life threatening, call the doctor’s office to set up an appointment. Keep track of what concerns you so that you can share this information with the physician.
Years ago I worked in a physician’s office and people would come in regularly for their B-12 or allergy injection. These are often standing appointments, and the injections given by the nurse. The and the person is not seen by the physician at the time of the visit.
Call 911. If you are experiencing any symptoms that are life-threatening such as chest pains or shortness of breath, call 911 immediately. We recently had to call 911 as my father has passed out and I’ve found him on the floor. This type of situation should be handled immediately so that your loved one can get the help they need as soon as possible. As our situation was extremely low blood sugar, the EMT’s were able to get his blood sugar stabilized prior to placing him in the ambulance, and then monitored his progress on the way to the hospital for further treatment.
Your primary care physician is your first line of defense and it is to your advantage to make and keep regular appointments. Your doctors are well equipped to spot when something is wrong. They can also perform or order further tests to get results that will let them know what type of treatment you may or may not need in the future.
To summarize, if you have some sort of ongoing ailment that requires medical attention make sure you see your primary care physician or a specialist for your heart, diabetes, or other serious condition, on a regular basis. On the other hand, if you are in good physical shape, a visit to your primary care physician once a year is in order unless you are told otherwise.