Seeing a doctor regularly is a vital part of overall health, well-being, and quality of life. There are a variety of reasons why seeing a doctor on a regular basis is beneficial for health that we will discuss here. At a minimum, people should get a yearly checkup, even if nothing seems wrong and the person has been healthy in the past. Initial visits give the doctor a chance to form a baseline to monitor the patients’ health and compare that with subsequent visits. This is especially important for older adults and seniors, who more commonly have chronic and complex health outcomes. In addition, this population should ideally be seeing a doctor every six months as opposed to yearly.
Benefits of seeing a doctor at least yearly:
- Catch health problems early – by seeing a doctor on a regular basis you can catch disease and illness earlier than if you wait to see or feel symptoms of disease and get it treated afterwards
- Doctor has better understanding of patient’s health history – when you are regularly seeing your doctor you are creating a relationship with them that allows them to better understand you and your health needs
- Provides a story of overall health – regular visits create a personal health story that can help your doctor provide you with better care
- Doctors can make a better diagnosis – by creating a relationship with you and understanding your personal health history, better diagnoses can be made when disease becomes apparent
- Ability to manage chronic disease better for increased quality of life – if you have a chronic disease, regularly seeing your doctor or specialist provides you with better care and allows them to personalize a treatment plan that works for you
- Prevent complications – by better managing your health and disease, your doctor can help you prevent complications; in addition, they can help you recognize potential complications and teach you how to deal with them
- Fewer emergency room visits – by managing disease and catching health problems early by seeing your doctor regularly, you will get the care you need without having to go to the emergency room
- Lower patient’s health-care costs – by avoiding emergency healthcare services, you are saving money by seeing a doctor yearly or twice yearly; in addition, primary care doctors are usually full covered by insurance, whereas emergency room services require payment from the patient
It is also important that you get the most out of each doctor visit. For older adults it might be helpful if they have a caregiver, family member, or close friend attend the appointment with them. They will be able to provide support, transportation, and can act as another set of ears to hear what the doctor recommends. It can also be helpful to bring a list of medications that you are currently taking to your appointment to save time. Overall, preparation prior and active listening during the appointment will ensure that you take advantage of your time with the doctor.
The main takeaway
By seeing a doctor at least once a year, you will be doing your body and your wallet a favor. If you haven’t seen a doctor in over a year, then it is important to take charge of your health and set up an appointment as soon as possible as most doctors book out months in advance. If you are new to an area, talk to your friends or neighbors about what primary care physician or practice they suggest and call them to verify insurance information with them.