As kids, getting yearly check ups seemed a given, but as adults, not so much. But as we age it is increasingly important to get regular check ups. The senior wellness visit lays out the road map for continued preventive care and allows physicians and patients to identify and focus on particular health concerns. It is also a great opportunity to have an open dialogue with your physician so you can ensure that you stay healthy and independent for many years to come.
- Preparing for Your Wellness Exam
You can get the most out of the time you have with your physician by prepping some simple information beforehand. Make sure you have the following for your exam:
- Make a list of all current prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
- Write down any questions that you might have for your doctor
- If you have done any end-of-life or advanced-care planning, bring those documents with you to the exam
- If you or your loved one has any cognitive impairment, it is a good idea to have a family member come to the exam too
- The Wellness Exam
During the exam, the physician will go over a health risk assessment questionnaire. The questionnaire includes:
- A review of past medical, family and social history
- Developing or updating a list of current providers and prescriptions
- Height, weight, blood pressure and other routine measurements
- Routine physical that may include a breast check for a woman or a prostate and hernia check for a man
- Detection of any cognitive impairment
- Personalized health advice and a review of wellness recommendations
- A list of risk factors and treatment options
- A screening schedule for appropriate preventive services
The questionnaire not only helps asses your vitals and any health concerns, but it is also an important tool to help your doctor evaluate if you are depressed, if you are able to still care for yourself and if your living environment is safe. Your physician may ask you if you know where your fire extinguisher is, if you have someone to call if you need help or if you are wearing your safety belt when driving. If you do not have an on-going relationship with a primary care physician, your doctor will also use this exam to encourage you to establish this relationship for the long-term management of any health risks or issues.
Overall, the wellness exam is an opportunity to ensure that you stay healthy and active by identifying any risk factors and connecting you with any preventive services that you may need.
If you wait to see your doctor when your health is in crisis mode, it can be hard to reverse the effects of some prolonged health issues.