Friday, July 29, 2016

A Personal Health Checklist - A Key to Healthy Living

One of the key actions I’m taking to live a healthy, long life, especially as I grow “older”, is getting regular medical check-ups, including specific health screenings and tests. Regular check-ups allow for early detection of a potential health issue. Early detection results in prevention and faster, more successful, healing if need be.

A good way to keep track of your health check-ups is to create your own personal health checklist. The checklist can be simple, but needs to be thorough. Your personal health checklist should include dates of when you were checked, what you were checked for, and what the results were. You can break it down by standard tests, and then add a section for specific tests catered to your own personal health needs. It’s a great tool, as it not only serves as a record of your health, but as a reminder of when you need to have a scheduled physical with your doctor. You and your doctor can decide from there what your needs are and how frequently you should get specific screenings done. I personally have been getting regular check-ups about every six months.

I’ve researched this topic and have found a variety of suggested and recommended actions to take to include on the checklist, as well as looked at my own personal checklists over the past few years. I strongly urge you to talk to your medical professional when putting together your own personal checklist to ensure that you have the best advice possible. You are more than welcome to use my recommended items for your checklist that I have included below. Keep in mind, that I’m basing these recommendations on MY research and own personal discovery, but by no means is this the best assessment for YOU to use for YOUR own needs. I do feel that this is a very important step in staying healthy and aging gracefully.

  • For both Men and Women over 50, I recommend the following screenings and tests:
    • Blood pressure Screening – Every time you go to the doctor you should be checked for blood pressure. If you don’t go to the doctor often, then have this check at least every two years, if not sooner.
    • Cholesterol and Heart Disease Screening – You should be screened at least every five years, if not sooner depending upon your current health and family health history. My doctor actually checks me at least every 6 to 12 months.
    • Colonoscopy Screenings and Colon Cancer – As long as you do not have a family history of colon cancer, or have current health issues, then every 10 years will work.
    • Osteoporosis Screening and Bone Density – The frequency of this screening depends on your health history and ongoing health as you age.
    • Eye Health Screening and Glaucoma – I personally recommend this screening every one to two years depending upon your current and historical health.
    • Teeth Screening, Gum Disease, and Mouth Cancers – Get regular check-ups as needed. The frequency of check-ups and screenings will depend on your dental professional’s recommendations.
    • Skin Screening and Skin Cancers – A good rule of thumb is to have your skin checked whenever you see suspicious moles, rashes, or other skin conditions that are not normal for you. Also, take preventive measure to protect your skin as much as possible. Sun damage and unnecessary radiation can result in skin cancer, which usually results in death from the spread of cancer to your other organs and tissues if not caught early.
    • Lung Cancer Screening – I mainly recommend this screening for those individuals who have a history of heavy smoking, are currently smoking, or have been exposed to long-term secondhand smoke. Those in an industry that involves inhalable, and potentially carcinogenic, particulates should also be screened.
    • Blood Screening – I recommend getting your blood work done more frequently: at least every 6 to 12 months, or more frequently if there are drastic changes in your health. Blood screenings should include your overall lipid panels, blood cell counts, blood sugar levels, and any other important factors that can be measured in the blood to help with prevention. The older we get, the more important it is to also have our hormone levels checked, such as those produced by and affect our thyroid.  Hormones are also measured within the blood.
    • Immunizations – The older we get, the more susceptible we are to getting communicable diseases and illnesses. Being vaccinated for whooping cough, hepatitis A and B, and tetanus are all important for prevention. If you haven’t been vaccinated for these already, I recommend checking with your medical professional to determine what is best and how often you should renew your vaccinations. As for the flu shot, I think it’s more important for those individuals who work or live closely with individuals with weakened immune systems (HIV/AIDS, Cancer, etc.) or work within the medical field to do so. I’m not totally in agreement with just getting them every year because the media says “it’s flu season” and that we should do it. I won’t! The flu shot is more of a gamble due to the constant evolution of the virus each year. Those individuals that do suffer from HIV/AIDS, Cancer, and other severe illnesses cannot get vaccinations because their immune systems are compromised and the vaccine could prove harmful. . It’s important for these people to avoid other people with flus, colds, and other bacterial and viral infections at all costs, which is why we should still continue to get vaccinated for most preventable diseases.
  • Screenings specific to Women over 50 – I recommend having a pelvic exam and pap smear at least every two years or sooner, depending upon your health history. I recommend more frequent self-breast examinations. Breast cancer is one of the faster evolving cancers, thus early detection and prevention is the key function of breast examinations. Mammograms can be a useful screening method; however, I side more with caution due to the frequent exposure to radiation. 
  • Screenings specific to Men over 50 – I recommend prostate and testicular cancer screenings at least annually, especially if there is a family history for this. 

I cannot stress enough the importance of checking with your medical professional to create the best health checklist for yourself. Prevention and early detection is the key function of this checklist, and the key to longevity.

In addition to tracking this information on your personal health checklist, you should track your weight, eating habits, medication and supplementation intake, and your lifestyle. All of this information will be extremely beneficial to living a happy and healthy life, especially as you grow older.

No comments:

Post a Comment