In Australia we don’t have the culture of the “annual physical” that other countries do. Most Aussies are pretty stoic, especially the women, and are reluctant to go to the doctor unless they’re coughing up a lung or about to have a finger drop off. Or are bleeding bleeding often results in a doctor’s visit.
Now that you’re in your 20’s and 30’s though, it’s time to be an adult about some maintenance of that body of yours. Screening tests in this age bracket can ward off diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and other things that are likely to affect us as we age. Small changes now to manage our diet, exercise, weight or blood sugars will make a big difference to how long and healthy a life we live. And we all want to be around to be trouble for our kids, right?
- Get a physical check-up. You may be a bit more settled now, without moving every year or so, and can form a relationship with a local general practitioner. Make an appointment when you’re healthy, and get some baseline checks done. Blood pressure, vital signs such as weight and height, a full medical and surgical history, and baseline bloods mean that when things start to vary from your normal, you know what has changed.
- Checks that are done when you’re well can screen for diseases, assess the risk factors you might have for further diseases (smoking, high BMI, drinking alcohol, previous illnesses) and encourage a healthier lifestyle as you age. It’s also a chance to update your vaccination records, get any boosters that are suggested or available, and build a relationship with a medical practice.
- The National Cervical Screening Program suggests that a routine screening with a Pap smear every 2 years, for women between 18 and 69, reduces the incidence of cervical cancer. If you’ve had a Pap smear before, you should be on the register to have a follow-up letter sent to you when you’re due or you can call 131556 for further information.
- Get your eyes checked by an optometrist, every 2 years. This is a free, bulk-billed service under Medicare and covers your vision as well as your eye health, risk of glaucoma and macular degeneration, and safety to drive.
- Consider your own risks for breast cancer and discuss this with your doctor. Your risk profile may change, so checking annually can give you information about whether to get a clinical breast assessment,
- Get a dental check up and clean every 12 months (or 6 months if you have gum disease, “bad teeth” or a condition that impacts on your oral health, such as diabetes). Dental health has an impact on your whole body, so don’t avoid it embrace it!
- Check yourself out once a month. Breast exam, skin check, feet and mental health take just minutes to check over and can make a huge difference to your future. It may take you’re a few months to notice a change, and a few months might be needed to get up the courage to mention it to your doctor, but be dedicated to managing your health as it truly is your most valuable asset.
Being an adult can be really boring some times, and being proactive about health, rather than reactive to a crisis, is a hallmark of being “older” rather than footloose and fancy free as you might have been in your teens and early 20’s.
What check-up have you been avoiding recently, that you can make an appointment for this week? Is there something bothering you that a quick appointment with the doctor would settle your worries? What other checks do you do semi-regularly that other SAHMers should also do?