This fall is a great time to schedule wellness checks and physicals for the whole family. Especially since many people avoided the doctor throughout the pandemic, it’s extra important to check in with your doctor and get back on track with your health and wellness goals. It’s also a good time to make sure everyone is up to date with vaccinations, COVID-19 or otherwise.
It’s important to see your primary care provider every year for a physical exam (if you’re under 65 years of age) or annual wellness visit (if you’re more than 65 years of age).
“Annual physicals and wellness exams are important because you can learn how to prevent certain diseases through healthy lifestyle interventions,” says Paul Sieckmann, M.D., chief medical officer for HonorHealth Medical Group. “You’ll also have the opportunity to discuss and undergo age-appropriate screenings that are targeted for you based on your medical and family history that can catch diseases like cancer at their earliest stages, when they are easier to treat successfully.”
What to expect at an annual physical exam
If you’re concerned about a specific health issue or need a hands-on examination, a routine physical exam is the way to go. This allows your doctor to do a head-to-toe physical examination that also includes a discussion of your health, history, and risk factors.
This appointment type also allows your provider to order additional screening tests and offer vaccinations. There are a lot of important health screenings you should discuss with your doctor during this visit. These may include screenings for certain types of cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and more. You can also use this time to talk to your doctor about the flu shot, pneumonia vaccine, or COVID-19 vaccine.
What to expect at an annual wellness visit
Those 65 and older with Medicare Part B have the option to instead utilize an annual wellness visit that serves as a health consultation. Your provider doesn’t take your vitals or perform screening exams. Instead, you have an in-depth discussion about your health goals and develop a plan to follow.
Dr. Sieckmann describes the annual wellness visit as an opportunity to be proactive and forward thinking about your health. For seniors, he says, “It’s a time for you to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your provider about ways to age gracefully in the healthiest way possible.”
Dr. Sieckmann says he makes sure he reviews issues important to seniors during their Medicare-covered annual wellness visits. He addresses issues such as balance and preventing falls, diet and nutrition, memory, vaccinations, and end-of-life planning, among other topics.
Make these exams part of your healthcare routine
Many illnesses can be prevented with healthy lifestyle changes or can have great outcomes if they are detected early. Make your health a priority by calling your doctor today to schedule your annual exam. Benefits vary by insurance plan, so confirm your coverage benefits with your insurance provider.