Health Matters Spring 2021 - Page 24

How often to see the doctor

Routine health checkups are a key part of staying healthy . Older adults may feel like they ’ re always visiting one doctor or another . But what is an acceptable frequency for doctor appointments ?
The answer isn ’ t always so cut and dry , and many health professionals have mixed feelings even among themselves over the magic number . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults over the age of 65 visit the doctor more than twice as often as 18- to 44-year-olds . According to Paul Takahashi , a physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester , Minn ., adults should see their primary care physicians at least once a year to make sure diseases are being properly managed and to stay current on preventative screenings .
Visiting the doctor more frequently does not necessarily add up to better health , and it actually can do the opposite . Dr . Peter Abadir , an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine , says frequent visits to health facilties where sick people congregate puts one at a higher risk of illness or infection . Visiting the doctor only when necessary is one way to avoid risky exposure .
Doctor visit frequency is not a one-size-fits-all answer . A yearly physical or checkup is a given , even for people who are healthy . People with a family history of certain conditions , like sleep disorders , cancer , high blood pressure , and other conditions , may need to see a doctor more frequently than those with no such histories . In addition , patients may need referrals to certain specialists who work together to provide an overall health plan . That can increase the number of appointments and shorten the intervals between them . Johnson Memorial Health offers some statistics .
• People visit the doctor four times a year on average .
• Studies show that poor or uninsured people prolong the time between doctor ’ s visits .
• Individuals with high blood pressure may need to see the doctor four times a year to ensure medications are working properly .
• Patients on dialysis see the doctor several times a week .
Dr . Jennifer Caudle , a family physician and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford , NJ , says too often people visit the doctor only when they are really sick . That works to their disadvantage because the appointment will focus only on treating the illness instead of addressing other preventative care and screenings . Balance is necessary in regard to health care .
Patients can work together with their doctors to develop screening schedules that are customized to their particular profiles . These schedules can be modified as health history information changes or as patients age . Doctors can dial back or increase health visits as needed .
— Metro Creative Connection
24 Health Matters