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September Is …

Healthy Aging Month Why checkups are vital to health
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Regular visits with a medical professional are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Too often people visit the doctor only when they are ill, as they may not realize just how essential well visits and physical exams are.

Routine checkups are the smartest way for people in all age groups to stay on top of their health, but they can be especially valuable for those age 50 and older. Regular checkups enable physicians to check current health against past visits, ensuring that any anomalies can be investigated and treated efficiently and promptly. This can make the difference in slowing down the progression of a disease that has already developed or prevent something from becoming a fullfledged issue.

The Mayo Clinic says there are no hard and fast rules about how often seniors should visit health care providers. Those who are in generally good health may only require one medical checkup a year. At this point vital signs will be checked, medications reviewed and lifestyle topics discussed. Doctors may even recommend or discuss tests. Patients also can bring up any issues they may be experiencing, however insignificant they may seem. Anything from sleep disturbances to memory loss to unexplained fatigue or pain can be addressed.

General care and geriatric doctors also are adept at asking questions to get a sense of how patients are faring in the world. A provider may ask about topics such as bathing or dressing. Questions about social interaction or typical routines can paint a better picture of both physical and mental health.

The recommended frequency of doctor visits may change as health issues arise or if follow-up is needed after a treatment plan or injury, according to the caregiver company Home Care Assistance. Some seniors may have to visit a provider once a week or once a month. Doctors, nurses and therapists will design a regimen based on a patient's current health needs.

The following are some compelling reasons to be diligent with provider visits.

• Frequently health is sues can be silent and not noticed early on by a patient, according to Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

• Patients will be less likely to forget about important screenings, like mammography, prostate tests, cholesterol tests, and more.

• Vaccines can be ad ministered, as even adults need certain immunizations to stay healthy.

• Patients can discuss potential lifestyle changes, like going on a diet or taking up a new fitness regimen.

It is essential to follow through with health care provider visits, even if they seem redundant. Physicians may detect issues that warrant close observation. Patients are urged to have an open dialogue with their doctors so they understand the reason behind health care visits and expectations in the future.

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