Why Parents Need Medical Checkups Too

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A common thread that we find with both kids and adults is that neither like going to the doctor very much. For parents, demanding annual checkups for your children is pretty simple. You hold all the cards transportation, discipline, etc. It's easy to say to your child, No check-up, no dessert. But, what about checking up on yourself?

If it isn't broke, don't fix it shouldn't be your preventative health strategy, yet we know it can be difficult sometimes to get to the doctor. Often when we're balancing family, work, and our own social lives, time gets crunched and the back-to-school checkups for your kids become a higher priority than your own health. Trust us, your kids need you to be healthy, too.

Jacquelyn Nystrom, MD, who practices family medicine at AdventHealth, knows the challenges of scheduling and anxiety that come with visits, but she urges her patients to overcome them.

Sometimes people have bad health habits and they're scared to find out the consequences of those habits. But you're far better off getting checked than letting them linger. Its something completely covered by health insurance a free benefit to take advantage of she said. At our office we try to run as close to scheduled timing as possible, so most of the time you can get in-and-out in an hour and a half.

Here is a checklist that can help you save time and prepare for your next checkup:

Find out if you're due for any screenings or vaccinations Based on your age, medical history, family history, lifestyle, and other factors, you may be in line for a general screening like a prostate exam or breast exam. Knowing what you're in for ahead of time can not only help you save time on future appointments (we know how valuable your time is), but it can help ease the anxiety you may feel heading into the doctor's office. It reduces the chance for surprises.

Make a list of questions to take with you A cornerstone of any relationship is communication, and the relationship you keep with your doctor is no different. If you've been feeling out of the norm, make sure you take pointed questions with you to the appointment. Make notes of any pain, changes in eating habits, mood, or any other changes you can document so your doctor is armed with as much information as possible. Keeping an honest and open relationship with your doctor not only forges more trust, it also can keep you healthy!

Think ahead Not just for your upcoming visit. Think long term. Are you planning major lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or undergoing a weight loss program? Are you considering a reproductive surgery like a vasectomy? Even changing jobs is something your doctor should know about, especially if it comes with health hazards. Bringing life events into the conversation can lead to invaluable medical advice and guidance that can help you transition smoothly into your new changes.

Important exams and screenings for adults:

BMI screening (Body Mass Index)
High Blood Pressure
Cholesterol Levels
Immunizations
Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings
Skin Cancer Screenings
Anxiety/depression
Lung function

Checks like BMI and simple blood work can give you a good gauge of your overall health. Your doctor can help to recommend any dietary or activity changes. Remember, your kids aren't the only ones who should be getting regular exercise and eating their veggies!

You can't just care for a child in isolation. We see that when parents don't eat well, the entire family will eat poorly. We like to educate families on healthy eating which can help fight obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Dr. Nystrom says. Especially if you have a child who has health problems, sometimes there is a genetic predisposition for that medical diagnosis, which means you should be monitoring your own health closely.

Overall, this protocol is pretty intuitive, and just like your carpool or after-school routine, once you add it to your schedule and make it a priority, it becomes second nature. 

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