With each new year, there is an opportunity to reflect on the old and look forward to the new. This is also a time to assess the current state of your health and wellness and prepare proactively on how to manage your needs. As your trusted resource for your health and wellness needs, we wanted to put together a five item checklist with things that we believe are the most important to consider doing each year.
Plan Your Doctors Visits.
Each year it is essential to plan an annual check-up with your Primary Care Physician. In most cases, many insurance policies include coverage for an annual checkup, so make it a priority to schedule. Some things worth discussing at your annual check-up include the need for any vaccinations or screenings, and completing routine lab and blood work to assess your overall state of health.
In addition to annual check-ups, appointments with specialists also require some advanced planning in a lot of cases. Proactively planning those appointments and scheduling them will ensure you don’t miss the opportunity to get on their schedule before things fill up.
Update Your Health Records.
It is important to update your health records each year to reflect any new concerns or health issues that arise. This could help guide you when planning for doctor’s visits. One way to do this is through requesting your current health records and check them for accuracy - including the addition of new information. Additionally, if your insurance carrier or coverage plan changed, it is pertinent to make your PCP aware of those changes, as it could impact future copays or billable services.
Protect Your Health Information.
Similar to the fraud and identity theft that occurs with people’s financials, your medical information can be equally useful to identity thieves seeking medical treatment, prescription drugs, or surgery. According to HealthIT.gov, “The best way to protect yourself against this possibility is to make sure you verify the source before sharing your personal or medical information. Safeguard your medical and health insurance information and shred any insurance forms, prescriptions, or physician statements”. The beginning of each new year is a great time to go through statements and medical information that may not be necessary to keep on file any longer.
Practices like ours use tools and services to ensure your information is protected at our office and online on our portal. It is important that you do the same with your computers and devices at home. Be careful not to share personal health information over email or social media with anyone that is not covered by HIPPA. Use passwords on your devices to ensure that any information stored would not be accessible if the device was stolen or lost.
Schedule Time for Self-Care.
With the many changes this past year has abruptly placed on many of us (i.e. homeschooling our children, working from home, less social interaction, increased anxiety over health), self-care has never been more important than it is now. It may seem difficult to set aside time for yourself with the many things you are likely juggling, but it could be the smallest of things that makes a huge difference.
It could be as simple as a few minutes alone to drink a cup of coffee before the craziness of the day begins or reading a book before bed to get your mind in a good place to ensure you sleep optimally. On the other hand, if you are feeling like you’re struggling on a deeper level, self-care could mean reaching out to professionals, like our licensed professional counselors, to seek reliable support. Regardless, taking the initiative to make your needs a priority is an important way to ensure you are firing on all cylinders!
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle.
Whether you are already making an effort to live a healthy lifestyle or you are embarking on the chance to make some changes with the new year, the key is making changes that will set you up for success long term. For example, add in physical exercise like walking, yoga or participating in a preferred activity or sport throughout the week in place of another session of binge watching a television show. Instead of ordering take out, explore learning how to cook healthier meal options at home. You may even find yourself a new hobby in the midst of it all.