Preventative care is simply a fancy term for the appointments you make to keep up to date with your health and wellness. They mostly don’t have to do with any illness or injury, because they work to protect against illness and injury before they happen. While some of these are covered in basic healthcare and insurance plans, everyone is different and it’s important to check with your provider.
While some of these are considered to be more basic, it can feel like a lot to keep up on everything. Spacing them out throughout the year can often help you keep it all together so your health stays in tip top shape.
1. Your Annual Check Up
The great news about this one is that it’s often covered by insurance in some capacity. Your annual checkup with your primary care physician can be great for catching any ailments or concerns that may have gone unnoticed in the past year or simply sending you on your way with a clean bill of health for the next year. Usually, these appointments don’t take too long and you’ll feel great knowing the lowdown on all your body’s functions.
2. Mental Health Services
While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind, you can check out counseling as a preventative service to stay on top of your mental health. Often, people get the impression that you need to be addressing a mental illness in order to utilize mental health services, but that isn’t the case.
Counseling and other mental health care can help you deal with stress, cope with big life events and even kick bad habits in life. Going to a few counseling sessions may be worth your while, and many insurance plans offer it for a reasonable copay.
3. Vision Exam
If you wear glasses or contacts — but even if you don’t — you should get your eyes checked once a year just to make sure everything has stayed the same since last time. Your prescription can change a lot in a year, with most people shifting a bit with every checkup. And if vision is covered in your healthcare plan, getting an eye exam should be a top priority. You don’t want to wander around with glasses or contacts that are a little off for you.
4. STI Screening
Depending on your lifestyle, STI screenings could serve you well even more frequently than once a year. It all depends on your sexual activity. If you have just one sexual partner with whom you are exclusive, an STI screening once a year is perfectly fine, especially if it comes with other general care appointments like your OB-GYN. If you have multiple sexual partners or tend to have unprotected sex, going every six months is ideal.
If you’re not sexually active at all, it might be fine to leave it off the table, though most OB-GYN offices offer annual STI testing at your checkup exams, which you can opt for with no extra work on your part. How often you get tested should really depend on your lifestyle.
5. Dental Cleaning
This is another one that needs your attention more than once a year. It’s no myth that you should see your dentist every six months — your oral health depends on regular cleanings, fluoride sealing and checks for cavities. The longer you go without seeing your dentist, the worse certain issues may get with time. It’s best to stick to the standard and go to the dentist every six months.
6. Getting Your Flu Shot
When flu season rolls around, many people are reluctant or forgetful when it comes to getting their flu shot, but getting one every year can prevent you and those around you from catching and spreading the flu. You can head to your primary care doctor as the chilly weather starts to make its appearance, but you don’t even need to go to the doctor every time. Many places like pharmacies and colleges offer flu shots completely for free every year. Really, there’s no excuse not to get one.
7. General Personal Upkeep
As we get older, certain health checkups become necessary. For women, mammograms to screen for breast cancer may be required every few years, just like men need to go for prostate exams. Then there’s the truly personal — if you have any conditions that need upkeep, staying in the know about your body is a must. Don’t just forget about that healing injury or that backache. Get it checked out even if you think you’ll be okay on your own, and you may thank yourself later.
While it may seem like a lot of appointments, keeping on top of your health is well worth the extra ticks in your planner. And once you have a system of reminders and you know when each appointment is due to pop up, you’ll be unstoppable.