Going to the doctor for a routine check-up can sometimes feel like a pointless chore. But if National Primary Care Week has anything to teach us, it’s not to discount this essential medical service. Primary care visits are a crucial factor in long-term health and wellbeing, especially for seniors. A primary care doctor is your main touchpoint for general medical care, whenever you’re worried about a new freckle, a mysterious new ache, or just have a few questions about your health. National Primary Care Week celebrates these medical heroes, who help keep us healthy and happy in our day-to-day lives.
What is Primary Care?
In short, primary care is everyday healthcare, often routine or preventative, which isn’t as focused on a particular specialization. Your primary care provider can see you for several complaints, from a regular check-up to a mysterious muscle ache. They can offer general advice about health or lifestyle changes, help diagnose potential problems, and coordinate continued care plans when necessary. In short, primary care is the tip of the medical spear when identifying and treating most health complaints.
With elements across such a broad field, primary care can be broken down into a few smaller categories. There are five general types of primary care doctors:
- Family Medicine: A family medicine doctor can see patients of virtually any age, providing comprehensive care emphasizing prevention.
- Pediatric: Pediatric doctors specialize in children.
- OB/GYN: obstetricians and gynecologists focus on primarily female patients, helping with pregnancy and screening for cervical cancer.
- Internal Medicine: Internists treat common diseases such as diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure.
- Geriatrics: These doctors specialize in patients over the age of 60.
It’s likely evident what a considerable benefit primary care can have for patients. One of the most important things about primary care is that it can help establish early treatment for problems that, if unattended, can become far more serious in time. Regular primary care visits can help protect your long-term health and minimize healthcare costs through preventative treatments.
Why Is Regular Primary Care So Important For Seniors?
As we get older, our health often becomes more complicated. Seniors usually end up with multiple medical concerns and many different prescriptions on our shelves. On top of everything, older adults are also more vulnerable to other serious problems like falls or malnutrition. Having regular contact with a primary care doctor helps ensure that none of these ongoing health concerns become more serious.
Ideally, your primary care doctor can get to know you through multiple visits. Regular visits establish a baseline for your health and mood so that they can flag any alarming changes. They will talk to you about your weight, eating habits, the medicines you’re taking, and your quality of life. They can also help you stay up to date on all of your relevant shots, from influenza to your COVID-19 booster. A primary care doctor also makes sure that you’re on track for various health screenings, such as those for colon cancer or high blood pressure.
Unfortunately, more than 50% of adults over 65 are not up to date on their recommended preventative services. Seniors who skip their annual check-ups are at a higher risk for medical conditions that a primary care doctor would have caught in time to treat. The pandemic has complicated visits for everyone, especially seniors. Because older adults are at a higher risk for serious COVID-19 symptoms, many have put off routine doctor’s visits to avoid any chance of exposure. While this might be better protection against COVID-19, it also puts seniors at greater risk for other serious medical issues.
Have An Advocate On Your Side
It’s ideal to have a doctor who knows you well and sees you regularly. But between yearly check-ups, there’s still plenty of opportunities for new health concerns to arise. Seniors are at a high danger of isolation, especially during the pandemic. For seniors living alone without contact from friends or family, it’s tragically easy for medical conditions to develop unnoticed. That’s why having an in-home caregiver is so important for many older adults.
An in-home caregiver serves as a companion and second pair of eyes for seniors, taking note of any changes in behavior or wellbeing. A caregiver can also help provide transportation to and from the doctor’s office, so going to see your primary care provider has never been more accessible. Caregivers help you stay healthy and happy between doctor’s visits, from offering medication reminders to chipping in with daily tasks like cooking and dishwashing. If you struggle with regular tasks like toothbrushing or using the bathroom, an in-home caregiver can help you take care of those needs.
For seniors still living at home, having a support system is crucial. With support from friends, family, a primary care doctor, and a caregiver, seniors can keep living life fully and independently. So be sure you’ve gotten your yearly check-up done on time, and consider hiring an in-home caregiver to help with the rest.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.