Visiting the doctor. It’s one of the most important things you should do, but also one of the easiest things to put off. However, as you get older the temptation to conveniently forget about doctors’ appointments becomes stronger.

Whatever the reasoning behind putting off an appointment – whether it be due to concerns around what your doctor will find, or financial-related worries – missing doctors’ appointments will only make the situation worse.

With that being said, as we age, we’d rather not play out the stereotype of being a regular in the doctor’s lounge. That’s why I’d like to share what I believe to be four of the most important doctor visits that you shouldn’t miss.

Make sure that you’re prepared for these visits and, together with regular attendance, you’ll be able to continue enjoying your life, without putting your health at jeopardy.

General Medical Check-Ups

It’s really important to ensure that you’re regularly having a general medical check-up. Of course, what defines regular will depend on a few different factors, including:

  • Your age
  • Your overall general health
  • Any pre-existing conditions that you may have.

As a general rule, though, I would advise going for a general medical check-up at least once a year. This is the best way to prevent, or stem the curb of, any future health issues.

During a general medical check-up, your doctor will check things like your heart, lungs, weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and other vital signs.

General medical check-ups also provide the perfect opportunity to ask your doctor about any queries or concerns that you may have. Attending regularly will help to ensure that you cut down the amount of any future unplanned visits.

Regular Gynaecology Visits

While regular visits to your gynaecologist may feel like something that becomes less important as you pass 60, this is not the case. The female body goes through a number of changes throughout the years, especially in the post-menopause phase.

This makes regularly visiting your gynaecologist really important, as tests like a pelvic exam, Pap smear, and human papillomavirus (HPV), can all help in the early detection of cancer.

Depending on your individual situation, your doctor may recommend having a Pap smear test around once every three years, and an HPV test every five years. However, this will vary for everyone. In some cases – usually following a few negative Pap smears in a row – your doctor may feel that they are no longer needed.

Visits to your gynaecologist are also important to ensure that you’re having regularly scheduled mammograms. Breast cancer is, unfortunately, common. This is especially true for women over 60. Early detection when it comes to breast cancer plays a vital role in recovery rates.

Regrettably though, regular access to a gynaecologist is something that’s financially out of reach for many women over 60, especially if you don’t have health insurance. This can cause missed detections and the need for further treatment.

If you find yourself in this position, don’t despair. Alternative options are available if you look elsewhere.

For example, an increasing number of women have been travelling abroad for treatment in recent years. Don’t let the myths of medical travel steer you away from this option. Travelling overseas for treatment has allowed hundreds of patients to access high-quality care, at a fraction of the cost that they’d pay at home.

Visiting Your Ophthalmologist

Nothing quite lives up to the stereotype of ageing more than struggling with eyesight. I understand that feeling and the negative connotations associated with having to get reading glasses for the first time in your life.

However, regular visits to your ophthalmologist are really important, especially as you get older. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that those aged 65 and older should have an eye examination “every 1 to 2 years, even in the absence of symptoms.”

The mention of an absence of symptoms is important here. Even those luckily enough to still have 20/20 vision after they turn 60, should be organising regular visits to their ophthalmologist. These will help to catch undetected cases of ocular disease, which occur more regularly with age.

Dermatology Is Important

Dermatology isn’t just about beauty products and silky smooth skin. In fact, dermatologists can play a pivotal role in the early detection of cancer. This is backed up by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) who conducted a study into melanoma detection and survival rates.

They found that the five-year survival rate amongst patients whose skin cancer was detected and treated early was 99%. However, they also found that the five-year survival rate dropped to 23% amongst those whose cancer was not detected and treated in its early stages.

None of us like to think about cancer and the prospect of having to face it. However, this study from the AAD highlights the importance of regular visits to your dermatologist.

Prevention, Prevention, Prevention

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, as a doctor I understand the worry about checking in on your health. But that is exactly why these regular visits are so important.

By going regularly, you will help to avoid more frequent visits in the future. For women over 60, it’s all about prevention, and not missing these four doctors’ visits will help to do exactly that.

How often do you visit your doctor as a preventative measure? Which of these visits have you put off more than once? Has a scheduled doctor’s appointment revealed something you never even suspected was going on in your body? Please share your story and let’s have a conversation.

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