5 important questions to ask at a general check-up

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While it’s important to keep a close eye on your health at every age, this becomes even more critical as you grow older. Equally important, is knowing what to ask your GP at your next physical exam to give you a sound understanding of your situation so that you’re well-placed to take optimal care of yourself. Here are five questions to help you do that.

1. Which tests do I need?
Having your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar checked regularly is a must, but it’s also vital that you ask your GP about any other tests and screenings you may need. For example, the risk of developing colon cancer increases significantly after 50, so it’s important to speak to your doctor about scheduling a colonoscopy and having follow-ups when required. Similarly, men over 50 should confirm how often they require a prostate check, while women should do the same regarding mammograms and pap smears. Your GP will have a clear idea of your family and medical history and will be able to advise exactly what tests and screenings you’ll need, and when you’ll need them. 

It’s also good to ask about vaccinations as it’s recommended that over 50s be vaccinated against shingles, while over 65s be vaccinated against pneumococcal disease.

2. What about my medication?
If the tests you’re having turn up anything new – perhaps your cholesterol is higher than it should be – your doctor may need to recommend additional medication. If this is the case, ask about any side effects and check that your new meds won’t react with your existing ones. Now is also the time to raise any concerns you may have around the efficacy of your current treatment and to discuss the possibility of going off medication if you’ve been hoping to do so.  

3. Are there any lifestyle factors I need to relook?
Several non-communicable diseases like heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer are strongly linked to the lifestyle choices we make. Smoking, drinking, poor diet and too little exercise all make a significant contribution to the onset of these diseases, so it’s important that you discuss any behaviour (be as honest as possible) that may be impacting your health and increasing your risk of developing one or more of them. 

4. What should I do before my next visit?
If there are changes you need to make to improve your health and lower your disease risk, it’s vital that you map out a plan of action with your GP and set realistic goals, so that you know what’s expected of you ahead of your next appointment. For example, if you’re suffering from high cholesterol, your GP may instruct you to relook your diet and increase the frequency and intensity of your exercise routine in order to shed a few kilos, and decrease your alcohol intake. You may wish to take a pen and paper to your appointment so that you’re able to make notes.

5. When should I book another appointment?
While it’s important to have a general check-up once a year, you may find, as you get older, that you’ll need these more regularly – especially if you have a serious health issue that needs ongoing observation. So, make sure that before you leave your doctor’s office, you know exactly when you’re expected for your next check-up. 

Continuous care at Evergreen
Forming part of our Partnership for Life promise, continuous care at Evergreen Lifestyle Villages offers a range of healthcare solutions designed with the challenges and needs of aging in mind. Our offering includes state-of-the-art, 24-hour medical emergency assistance in all homes, monthly clinics and regular health checks carried out by experienced nurses, and an active aging philosophy supported by extensive village-based health and fitness programmes.