As you age, it’s more important than ever to resist the urge to ignore it when you suspect something is wrong. You need to be proactive with your health to make sure that if something isn’t quite right, it’s addressed quickly. Scheduling annual doctor appointments can help prevent minor issues from turning into major concerns due to lack of treatment.
Regular, semi-annual checkups with your general practitioner are always a good idea. They can identify potential problems with the systems of the body, and refer you to specialists as needed. Talk to your general practitioner about any concerns you have with your body and/or mind.
Along with brushing and flossing, you should see your dentist every six months. Dental health is related to heart health – along with the ability to enjoy a good steak. If you’ve lost some teeth along the way, you may need to schedule visits with your dental practitioner more often. Always defer to their recommendation on required frequency of visits.
It’s also a good idea to see an audiologist for hearing tests. The ones conducted by representatives who sell hearing aids are not as thorough as the tests done at the audiologist’s office. While both tests will tell you whether you can hear or not, the audiologist can let you know if you’re experiencing problems that are based in the brain.
Similarly, make regular visits, at least one per year, to the ophthalmologist to be sure there are no drastic changes in vision. Moderate changes, if left untreated, can sometimes lead to more severe issues. If you’ve noticed an inability to see clearly, a new prescription may be all you need. Only the ophthalmologist can tell you for sure.
As your body ages, the bone structure of your feet can change sometimes to the point you have an inability to balance or experience generalized pain or discomfort. A podiatrist can address issues with your feet and help solve foot problems to decrease the risk of falls (1).
A visit to the neurologist may be in order if you’re concerned about cognitive function. Whether you’ve noticed you’re forgetting names, where you left your keys, or if you’re experiencing strange body movements, or lack thereof, that can’t be explained by your general practitioner, a visit to a neurologist may necessary. Neurologist appointments can often be difficult to schedule with wait times spanning months, so it’s best to schedule an appointment as soon as you experience these symptoms.
(1) Najafi, B., de Bruin, E., Reeves, N., Armstrong, D., & Menz, H. (2013). The role of podiatry in the prevention of falls in older people: A JAPMA special issue. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, 103, 452-456. link
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