Submitted by Right at Home Peoria
Most seniors have been taking health precautions these days. Handwashing, wearing a mask when advised to do so, and practicing social distancing help protect us from exposure to COVID-19.
But this is no time to lose sight of our overall health. “Healthcare providers report that many patients are failing to come in for preventive care,” notes Jennifer Pearce, Owner of Right at Home Peoria. “This could put them at risk for a host of health conditions—including more serious effects from COVID-19.”
Today, most healthcare facilities are ready and prepared to provide routine care. They’re following safety precautions, with frequent disinfection, distancing patients from one another, and requiring masks for patients and staff. Some are using telehealth when an in-person visit isn’t necessary. Here are preventive health steps you shouldn’t skip:
“Some people think immunizations are just for children, but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Pearce. “Vaccines protect us from harmful diseases throughout life—and older adults are often at higher risk of contracting these diseases and suffering serious complications from them.”
Immunizations that are currently recommended for most older adults:
• Annual flu vaccine
• Pneumonia (pneumococcal disease)
Screenings are tests your doctor performs to check for hidden medical conditions. Some require a physical procedure, while others are done with an interview. “Don’t think of screenings as a test you need to pass,” Pearce advises. “Instead, consider them as empowering information to help you protect your health.”
Your doctor might recommend screenings for:
Hypertension (high blood pressure). The doctor checks your blood pressure with a special cuff that is placed around your upper arm, inflated and then deflated. Early detection of high blood pressure helps prevent heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, and more.
Cholesterol. A lipid panel is a simple blood test that measures blood fats, and can tell if you need to take steps to lower your cholesterol. This can protect your heart and even your brain.
Diabetes. A simple blood test can detect elevated blood sugar that indicates a person has diabetes, or prediabetes—elevated blood sugar that can progress to diabetes.
Cancer. Several types of screening can detect cancers at an early, more treatable stage.
Osteoporosis. A short, painless procedure called a bone density scan determines a person’s bone mass, and whether treatment is advised to slow bone loss.
Vision problems. A dilated eye exam can reveal sight-robbing conditions that are often treatable, such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic eye disease.
Your healthcare team also may recommend screenings for hearing loss, memory problems, depression, smoking, or unhealthy alcohol use. They may test for tuberculosis, HIV, and hepatitis as well. Oral health screenings also are important.
The next step
Once your doctor has your test results, they will share the information with you. They will recommend steps to take to manage any health problems detected. Most likely, the doctor also will recommend lifestyle changes that have a powerful preventive effect: getting enough exercise, eating a healthy diet, controlling stress, and staying mentally active.
People on Medicare qualify for an annual wellness visit. “Be sure to make this appointment,” says Pearce. “This is a great time to ask questions about things that concern you and to ask your doctor about recommended health screenings and immunizations. Most of these screenings and shots are free but ask ahead of time.”
In-home care supports overall senior wellness
Pearce reports that Right at Home’s professional in-home caregivers support the well-being of senior clients in many ways. They work with family and healthcare providers to coordinate healthcare appointments. They provide transportation and accompany clients to appointments. They encourage clients to follow the doctor’s recommendations about diet, exercise, and taking medications. These days and always, in-home care is a powerful resource for senior wellness.
The information in this article is not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Contact your doctor’s office about the screenings and immunizations that are right for you, and about how you can receive healthcare safely at this time.