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Physical Exams: A tool for healthy aging

Aging > A tool for healthy aging

A physical exam is a small investment in continuing good health. Develop a partnership with your doctor or healthcare professional with a goal of optimal health and longevity.

Believe it or not, cellular degeneration, reduced hormone production and the effects of free radicals plague even the mid-twenties set. Although it is not yet immediately obvious the signs of aging are upon us as early as age 25. You may look and feel great as you pass through the early stages of aging, but they are there lurking about and biding their time. It isn’t until later that we begin to see the visible signs of aging.

To maintain optimal health throughout your twenties and beyond strive to eat right, exercise regularly and develop a trusting relationship with your health care professional. If visiting the doctor for a physical exam is not high on your list of priorities consider it as an investment in your health. The effort you put in now will be realized later in the form of a proactive plan for maintaining your good health.

There has been a great deal of debate in recent years about recommended frequency for doctor’s visits and physical exams. Some experts argue that once annually is necessary for all adults. Others argue that healthy adults under 50 can forgo the annual exam and visit their healthcare professional every two to five years depending on their age. You will need to talk with your doctor to determine the frequency that is right for you. You should also talk with your insurance provider or read your policy carefully to learn what procedures and tests will be covered as well as how often and when.

When you are ready to schedule your physical exam there are a few things you should do. If your doctor is very busy, you may need to call as much as several months in advance for a specific appointment date. Also, give some thought to how you have been feeling recently. Do you have any concerns? If so, make a note of any questions or concerns you would like to address with your doctor. It can be easy to forget during your appointment. You should also make a list of any prescription and over the counter medications, or herbal remedies you are taking. Give honest answers to lifestyle questions. Your doctor is not your judge. S/he is your advocate and you are working together to achieve optimal health.

If you don’t have a doctor, ask friends and coworkers to offer recommendations. There are also a number of websites that list detailed information about healthcare professionals including education, training, professional associations and specialties. Make a list of what is important to you in a doctor and use your list as your guide when you choose. It is very important that you have a doctor you are comfortable with and in whom you can place your trust.

What happens during your physical exam will depend on your age, gender and health. Generally, everyone should have a skin exam to screen for cancer; a check of cholesterol levels, as well as heart, lung, kidney and liver function; and blood pressure check. Everyone should also have a regular check of their reproductive organs. Other tests, such as fecal occult blood test (screening for colorectal cancer) and mammograms (screening for breast cancer) are indicated with aging.

Aging > A tool for healthy aging