The Importance of Well Visits
There seems to be a lot of different types of wellness checkups these days, from well-child visits and sports physicals to well-adult visits, well-woman checkups and annual physicals to geriatric annual wellness visits and annual physicals. There is a reason each exists, and each one plays an important role in your and your family’s health. We’ll start with well-child visits, then go through adult visits and end with geriatric care.
The well-child visit starts the first week of life and goes all the way to 21 years old. These are important exams where your provider tracks your child’s progress and development by taking measurements of your child’s height, weight, blood pressure, vision and hearing, and asking questions to get to know your child.
“It’s also an opportunity to pick up on any abnormalities and talk about preventive measures,” said Dr. Sherri Onyiego, Equality Health Texas Market Medical Director. “If a child is not socializing or interacting with other kids, that could be a developmental milestone delay. That’s important for parents to share.”
Preventive measures include vaccinations administered at appropriate time points and how to prevent injuries that can happen in and outside the home.
“That’s when we start having conversations around car seat safety and things in the home that can be a potential source of injury,” Onyiego said. “As a mom, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having the right size car seat or helmet.”
Your provider also uses this time to talk about your extended family. Getting a family history of diseases is part of the discussion on prevention.
“If there’s a family history of diabetes,” Onyiego explained, “and I find that grandma or mom had gestational diabetes and grandma also has diabetes, this gives opportunities to talk about the things a family can do to prevent your teenager or preadolescent from taking on some of those behaviors that can potentially put them at risk for developing diabetes.”
The sports physical can take place during a well-child visit. Your provider can fill out any specific forms related to school or work that need to be taken care of.
“The way I like to think about sports physicals is as a preparticipation exam,” Onyiego said. “It’s a comprehensive physical not geared to prevent or keep a child out of sports, but to identify potential things that could impact their ability to play a sport or cause an injury.”
The annual wellness exam plays an important role in an adult’s preventive healthcare. During the exam, you provider does a routine check (your height, weight and vital signs) and hones in on issues related to your visit.
“Again,” Onyiego said, “it’s an opportunity to talk about preventive measures, including family history, vaccines or taking care of underlying conditions or behaviors.”
This includes any emotional unease you may be experiencing. Onyiego emphasized the pandemic years have not been easy for anyone to navigate, and this is a good time to share with your provider.
For the annual physical, you can expect more of a detailed exam. The exam includes a routine check, a discussion about your family history and usually includes lab work or screenings (which your health plan may or may not cover).
The well-woman visit, for females from adolescence to age 65, is also known as a gynecological or pelvic exam. Ladies want to schedule this once a year to keep reproductive organs and breasts healthy.
Medicare Health Checks
If you are on Medicare, your plan covers an Annual Wellness Visit. While not a physical exam, it does include a routine check and focuses on your current health, prescriptions you take and how you can stay your healthiest.
“It’s an opportunity to look at your preventative plan journey if you will,” Onyiego explained. “A time when a comprehensive risk assessment occurs. It’s also an opportunity to go through a comprehensive list of questions geared toward prevention.”
The annual physical is a more comprehensive exam that involves lab work and screenings. Some of these may not be covered by Medicare.
The Next Step
Now you know the lay of the land regarding health checkups. Our next article, publishing on April 24, will explain why you don’t want to neglect these visits and guide you in how you can get the most out of each one. In the meantime, if you have any questions about wellness visits for you and your family or want to make an appointment, contact your provider or Equality Health.
For more facts and insights to help you make the best choices for your wellness journey, visit Cafecito Time con Equality Health.
Published in Prensa Arizona, 4/7/2022