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Make Your Preventative Care Appointments for 2022

At the height of COVID-19, doctor’s offices postponed many routine procedures to give preference to COVID patients. However, now is the time to resume prevention and wellness check-ups. Getting back on track with regular preventative care can help you detect health problems early and save on healthcare costs. 

What Is Preventative Care? 

Preventative health refers to promoting wellness and preventing disability, disease, and premature death. Prevention care includes annual physical exams and screenings for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, preventative care also includes: 

  • Weight loss, smoking cessation, and healthy eating consultations 
  • Family planning, well-woman exams, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings 
  • Mental health counseling 
  • Dental check-ups 
  • Well-baby and pediatric prevention care 
  • Vaccinations against infectious diseases 
  • Seasonal vaccinations for COVID-19, flu, pneumonia, and other illnesses 
  • Prenatal appointments 

Types of prevention care vary among the patients receiving it. Each person has specific medical needs with tailored goals to help them stay healthy. These goals depend on a patient’s age, sex, lifestyle, genetic profile, environment, and risk factors. 

Why Is Preventative Care Important? 

Annual appointments for preventative care help patients detect health problems before they become unmanageable. Early on, finding out about medical conditions can increase patients’ health outcomes, resulting in lower healthcare costs. Prevention care also enables individuals to increase their longevity and enhance their quality of life. 

Prevention services are strongly linked to public health by preventing the spread of disease. Between 1994-2013, vaccines for diseases like polio and measles saved an estimated 21 million children from hospitalization and 732,000 from death. If not for vaccination, about 42,000 children in the United States annually would die unnecessarily. 

Unfortunately, many people do not get adequate preventative care. Before COVID-19, just 8 percent of adults in the United States over 35 years old made regular doctor visits to get the recommended preventive care. Money is often the barrier for individuals with no or inadequate health insurance. Other people might not know what kinds of care are appropriate for their age, sex, or medical history. 

Due to the COVID pandemic, about 41 percent of U.S. adults have put off making annual appointments because of fears of infection. Colorectal cancer and breast cancer screenings have decreased by 89 percent  since early 2020. Although many masking and social restrictions have ceased, too many individuals still underutilize preventative screenings. 

Which Appointments to Schedule 

As you get older, your healthcare needs and the kinds of care you should get will change. If you are unsure where to start, your doctor can help you identify the screenings you need based on your medical history. 

Birth to 36 Months 

Children up to three years of age need to see their pediatrician several times for check-ups and immunizations. It is appropriate to ask your doctor about early signs of autism and eating and digestion problems. Because a baby’s development requires careful attention, schedule appointments at 2- 4 days and two weeks, and then at one, two, four, six, nine, 12, 15, 18, and 24 months. 

Ages 3 to 12 

Children in this age group should have annual appointments with their primary doctor or pediatrician. They also need to see a dentist every six months and an optometrist every two years. You can consult your child’s doctor about proper nutrition and healthy height and weight. 

Ages 13 to 20 

Adolescents and young adults need to see their primary care provider, optometrist, and dentist every year. Sexually active teens need annual STI screenings, and a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for children aged 11-12 is a good idea. Parents might watch for signs of substance abuse, depression, and other mental health issues. 

Adults Ages 21 to 64 

Adults between 24-64 years of age should have annual appointments with their primary provider and dentist and their optometrist every 1-2 years. People in this age range are at a greater risk for illnesses that have yet to present symptoms. Therefore, blood screenings can catch the early stages of some cancers and other conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Your doctor can advise proper diet and exercise and prescribe drugs when natural remedies are insufficient. 

Adults 65 Years and Older 

As with their younger counterparts, older adults should make yearly visits to their dentist and primary doctor and their optometrist every 1-2 years. People over 65 might look for changes in their mental health, including increased isolation or difficulty with decision-making. If you are at this age and have problems bathing, cooking, cleaning, or performing other routine behaviors, you might ask your doctor about assisted living options. 

Research and materials for this article were compiled, written, and distributed on behalf of the National Public Health Information Coalition. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the various authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Public Health Information Coalition or its members. 

References 

  1. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/fundamentals/prevention/overview-of-preventive-care?query=preventative%20care 
  1. https://www.mphonline.org/preventative-care-guide/ 
  1. https://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/about-the-aca/preventive-care/index.html 
  1. https://www.ahip.org/vaccines-save-lives/ 
  1. https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2017.1248 
  1. https://www.5280.com/2021/12/the-complete-guide-to-preventive-health-care/ 
  1. https://www.jointcommission.org/resources/news-and-multimedia/blogs/dateline-tjc/2021/04/keeping-patients-on-track-with-preventive-care-during-the-pandemic/ 
  1. https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine-for-hpv.html 
The National Public Health Information Coalition

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