Even before coronavirus, many seniors skipped follow-up appointments or didn’t schedule regular check-ups with their primary care doctors. However, this problem has only gotten worse due to COVID-19. Doctors and healthcare providers have already seen a drop in patients this year, and some have even had to close their doors for good. As a result, seniors with chronic conditions may struggle to get the care they need.
In this post, we will discuss why checkups with the doctor are so important and how you or an aging loved one can stay safe at the doctor’s office.
Importance of Regular Checkups
Even if you don’t like going to the doctor, there’s no denying that it can be good for you. These visits can give you additional insight into your health and provide you with ways to improve or maintain your health.
Here are some reasons why doctor’s visits can be so valuable.
- Education: When you go to the doctor’s office, you can learn more information about health conditions that you may have. During your visit, you can ask questions, obtain resources, and learn more about your condition and how to manage it. Often, a doctor’s advice is tailored to your body and your lifestyle, which is much more valuable than an online article or speculation from a friend.
- Medical issues: Doctors are trained in specific fields to identify medical problems that you might not be aware of. They know how to interpret test results and analyze symptoms to help make a diagnosis. Some conditions might seem obvious, but others may be undetectable without a medical professional. Attending your doctor’s appointments regularly can help you be proactive in identifying and managing health conditions.
- Referrals: Some health conditions require a specialist; however, many specialized doctors need a referral to accept new patients. Your primary care doctor can provide referrals to other medical specialists to help you get the care and attention you need.
- Lower cost: In the long run, attending regular doctor’s appointments can help you reduce your healthcare costs overall. This is due to the proactive approach to care, more frequent communication, and regular health screenings. By diagnosing and treating conditions early, seniors may be able to save money and save their health.
- Relationship: When you attend a doctor regularly, you can build a relationship with them. Your doctor can understand your health history, and you can feel more comfortable communicating your health concerns. As a result, you can feel more confident in their diagnosis and will know who to turn to if you experience a serious health threat.
- Immunizations and tests: During a doctor’s visit, you can get yearly immunizations, like the flu shots, or regular blood work. These can help you maintain your health and be proactive in your health care.
Staying Safe at the Doctor’s Office
While doctor’s appointments can be valuable to your overall health, COVID-19 and other infectious diseases can make it difficult to feel safe going into the office. Within a doctor’s office, you may be surrounded by individuals who are sick with contagious conditions and even COVID-19 itself. During a visit, you might also come in contact with many contaminated surfaces, like door handles, that could easily spread germs.
However, there are precautions and measures you can take to help keep yourself or a loved one safe.
- Opt for telehealth: If your doctor’s office offers telehealth services, you should consider having your doctor’s appointments from the safety of your own home. Telemedicine relies on video calls to communicate with your doctor. On the call, you can discuss your health challenges, symptoms, or other concerns. However, this approach is not suitable for all health appointments. They can be good for follow-up appointments, consultations, mental health appointments, nutrition, or other basic appointments. But, obviously, your doctor cannot perform in-depth examinations or tests while you are at home.
- Wear a face mask: Wearing a face covering can protect yourself and others from spreading contagious particles. Make sure that your mask covers the mouth and nose to effectively provide protection.
- Bring hand sanitizer: Keep hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse when you go to the doctor. Use the hand sanitizer after you touch surfaces in the doctor’s office. You could also keep your hand sanitizer in the car and use it before and after your visit. If you don’t have hand sanitizer, make sure you practice proper handwashing techniques before and after your appointment.
- Avoid touching your face: Germs and contaminants can get into your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. Therefore, try to avoid touching your face. We know that touching your face and hair can be a difficult habit to break, but it can help keep you safe when you are in environments with other individuals.
- Follow social distancing recommendations: To help avoid coming in contact with germs, you can also practice social distancing. The recommended distance is 6 feet from another individual. By following social distancing, you can reduce your chance of catching a contagious condition.
- Check in online or by phone: Some doctor’s offices are offering check in services online or by phone. When you get to the office, you can remain in your car and check in instead of having to go to a desk, which could be a source of contaminants.
Don’t let COVID-19 keep you from getting the care that you need! If you require medical assistance, schedule an appointment with your doctor and follow the proper precautions to remain safe.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a chronic condition or has COVID-19, we can help. Our caregivers are specially trained to assist seniors with a wide range of diagnoses. We can help you get to and from doctor’s appointments as well as provide care in the comfort of your own home. Review our Infection Control Specialty Program to understand how we care for seniors amid COVID-19.