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Routine Health Checkups

As a family caregiver, you do whatever you can to ensure the health and well-being of your aging loved one. That process includes helping them get the medical care they need to enjoy their golden years.

One of the major challenges for older adults is that they become more vulnerable to health issues over time. Nearly 95% of older adults have at least one chronic condition and nearly 80% have two or more. Routine checkups help you and your loved one address everything from long-term illnesses to growing aches and pain. 

Like any other caregiving responsibility, there’s a lot to know about how to approach routine health checkups. Use this guide to help your loved one get the most out of these routine appointments, whether they go see a doctor or need to consider some type of care option.

Importance of Routine Health Checks for Seniors

Routine health checkups play a crucial part in managing the health of your loved ones. Regular appointments with a healthcare provider allow seniors to take the steps necessary to address existing problems and be proactive about their wellbeing. Here are some major reasons why these checkups are so important.

  • Immediate care and advice from a medical professional.
  • Medication management to adjust prescriptions for various health needs.
  • Chronic condition management for ongoing conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
  • Early detection of health problems before they become a bigger problem.
  • Long-term savings by preventing or lessening the impact of future health issues.
  • Relationships with care professionals who get to know you. 

How Often Should Seniors Have Health Checkups?

The answer depends on the senior. Like most people, it’s best for older adults to at least have an annual health examination by a professional caregiver. However, these regular checkups can be increasingly important as people get older.

The average person’s health needs become more complex as they age. Simply put, many seniors can benefit from more frequent visits. Here are a variety of reasons why your loved one may need more frequent health checkups.

  • They’re dealing with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease and struggle to manage them on their own.
  • More regular visits will allow them to more frequently adjust prescriptions.
  • You want earlier detection for any serious issues and more frequent opportunities to determine if certain tests are needed.
  • You’re worried about cognitive decline and want more regular assessments to detect early signs of dementia and other cognitive impairments.

What to Do if Your Loved One Resists Medical Assistance

Just because a parent or another aging loved one should see a medical professional doesn’t mean that they’ll want to. It’s common for aging adults to resist routine checkups, as nearly a quarter of people aged 65 and older actively avoid medical care. There are a variety of reasons why your loved one may avoid checkups.

  • They don’t think they need help.
  • They think any issues will get better with time.
  • They’re afraid to be diagnosed with something or facing their own mortality.
  • They don’t trust medical professionals.
  • They had a bad experience in the past.
  • They don’t like having their body examined.
  • They’re embarrassed about their care needs.
  • They have difficulty traveling to routine checkups.

Many of these reasons are understandable, but they don’t change the importance of routine health checkups. Of course, this process can be challenging, especially when you’re unsure about how to approach your loved one about the subject. Here are some different tactics you can use to persuade aging loved ones to prioritize these appointments.

Be open and honest

Your loved one needs to know that you truly believe that routine checkups are essential. Express your concerns for their wellbeing and emphasize the importance of identifying and preventing potential health issues before they escalate. You can even share your own experiences to help alleviate fears and let your loved one know they aren’t the only person who needs routine checkups.

Address concerns

Convincing your loved one to do something is a two-way conversation. Ask them why they’re avoiding health checkups and listen to their concerns. This step will help them feel heard and allow you to address any misconceptions or specific fears that may stop them from seeking help.

Empower them

Try and get your loved one invested in routine checkups. Some people feel empowered when they’re involved in the decision-making process. Encourage them to ask questions during appointments, advocate for their own health needs and set up some goals that they can work toward. This involvement can help them feel more in control of their routine checkups.

Recruit other people

You don’t have to go through this process alone. Try asking close friends, family, or other trusted people to help you convince the person under your care. This assistance not only helps spread out the responsibility, but also allows your loved one to hear advice from multiple voices. 

Take your time

Routine checkups are important, but it’s important not to rush your loved one. If they feel like they’re being forced into routine checkups, they’ll likely resist them even more. Don’t be afraid to take it slow as you work on convincing your loved one about regular checkups.

How to Prepare for Health Checkups

Whether you plan to attend a health checkup with your loved one or not, it’s good to prepare for these important appointments. Routine health checkups are an opportunity to get the information and care you need to help your loved one live a happier, healthier life. Take the following steps so that you or your loved one can get the most out of upcoming checkups.

Have detailed information ready for any symptoms

Before the appointment, take note of any symptoms or changes in your loved one’s health. The more information that you can provide for a medical professional, the better. Take some time to document the following information.

  • A detailed list of symptoms.
  • The severity of these symptoms.
  • When those symptoms started.
  • When your loved one experiences these symptoms and how long they last.
  • Whether anything makes the symptoms better or worse.
  • How the symptoms affect any daily activities.

Provide medication information

Compile a list of any medications your aging loved one is currently taking. This process should include everything from simple supplements and over-the-counter drugs to prescription medication. These details will help your healthcare provider to make informed decisions about your loved one’s ongoing medication needs and avoid any drugs that wouldn’t interact well with others.

Gather medical records

Sometimes your doctor or other medical professional may need some important documents. These records can provide valuable insight into your loved one’s overall health status and allow healthcare providers to offer more personalized recommendations. Try to have the following records available in case they’re needed.

  • Past medical history 
  • Surgical procedures
  • Diagnostic test results
  • Immunization records

List out daily habits

Your aging loved one’s daily habits and lifestyle can directly impact their health. This information provides valuable insight into their wellbeing, which allows medical professionals to make better recommendations and identify potential dangers. Try to gather as much information about the following aspects of your loved one.

  • Diet
  • Exercise routine
  • Sleep patterns
  • Tobacco or alcohol use

Have talking points ready from your point of view

Your perspective is very valuable for routine checkups. Discuss any changes in your loved one’s behavior, mood, or functional abilities that you’ve noticed since their last appointment. You can also use this opportunity to advocate for your loved one’s needs if they’re unable or unwilling to do so themselves.

Questions to Ask During Health Checkups

A big part of getting what you need out of health checkups is asking the right questions. Unfortunately, a lot of seniors don’t get all the information they need during their checkups. Your participation may be required to get the comprehensive care your loved one needs. Ask the following questions during or after your loved one’s appointments to get the information you both need.

  • How is my loved one’s overall health?
  • Are there any changes or concerns since the last checkup?
  • Are there any potential changes I should watch out for?
  • Should I be concerned about these changes?
  • What is each medication treating, and are there any possible side effects?
  • What are good exercises that they should do?
  • How can we help my loved one get proper nutrition?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes that we need to work on before our next health checkup?
  • Is there anything that I should do to ensure they get the proper support in their home?
  • Are there any follow-up visits or tests necessary before our next checkup?
  • How can I best communicate with you about my loved one’s care?

Find the Right Care for Your Loved One

Routine health checkups play a big role in addressing your loved one’s care needs. However, every senior is different. Some seniors may only need regular doctor’s visits, while others require care services in their home. 

National Church Residences has a proven track record of helping seniors stay strong, healthy, and as independent as possible wherever they call home. Between visiting healthcare services and more than 340 senior housing communities in 25 states, we can help your loved one manage their health and live their ideal lifestyle

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