Welcome to Woodsonian THOUGHTS ON THURSDAYS, a place where we can share information that empowers you to take care of yourself and your seniors. For the next four weeks, we’ll discuss how you can PLAN TO BE A SILVER FOX. Stay tuned every Thursday and share your comments. I can’t wait to talk to you.
Protecting Your Physical Health – Part One
Caregivers often ask me how to make their senior years truly golden. We do this by being better stewards of our health and financial blessings. This blog series will give you the Woodsonism about how to AGE EXCELLENTLY!
FIND A PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR TO PARTNER WITH YOU IN PROTECTING YOUR HEALTH. Most health systems operate physician referral programs that post a doctor’s training, experience, and practice philosophy, but the most useful information comes from friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Ask how well their doctor communicates and how comfortable they feel asking questions, being in the office, and interacting with the doctor’s staff. You will also need to know how easy it is to get information, appointments, referrals, test results, and prescription refills. In a perfect world, you could schedule a getting-to-know-you visit with a new doctor. Health insurance companies will not usually pay for this, but some doctors do offer it for a fee. If this is important to you, ask about it when you call for an appointment, but don’t be surprised if the doctor’s policy does not include this type of visit. You can save time for these discussions in the initial examination by either downloading, or asking the doctor’s staff to send you the office forms to complete in advance. You can also just type up as much of your medical history and current symptoms as you can. Bring this and all of your medicines to the visit. Start the conversation by saying, “I’d like to get to know you. My health goals are…… How do you see us working together?” Be sure to ask the staff about communication protocols, and all other office policies.
If people smoke around you, STOP THEM! (or at least, limit your exposure to their smoke.) Smoking contributes to the top four causes of death in this country (heart disease, stroke, cancer, and chronic lung disease,) and it is the only truly avoidable risk. (You can’t pick your parents, and you can only control other health risks, like blood pressure.) Smoking can also interfere with a healthy sex life, and limit mobility because of poor circulation in the legs. Talk to your doctors about safe and effective ways to stop smoking.
EVEN IF YOU STOPPED SMOKING LONG AGO, YOU CAN STILL BE AT RISK FOR LUNG CANCER. Talk to your doctor is you are sixty years of age, or older and have a 30, or greater pack- year smoking history. A pack-year is the number of packs per day x the number of years that you smoked. For example, 30 pack-years = 1 pack per day x 30 years, 2 packs per day x 15 years, or ½ pack per day x 60 years. If you have this kind of smoking history, talk to your doctor about a special, low-radiation chest CT that might find lung cancer before it finds you.
NEXT THURSDAY: Be a More Informed Health Care Consumer.