5 Healthcare Moves Caregivers Too Often Skip for Themselves

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When was the last time you saw a doctor -- just for yourself? Caregivers who diligently take their loved one to all manner of appointments routinely overlook their own medical needs.

Some doctors will let you double up appointments so you can be treated at the same time as your loved one. Not convinced you have the time or money? Then do it for your loved one's sake. If you're not 100 percent well, you can't give 100 percent.

Here are five healthcare moves caregivers shouldn't skip (but too often do):

1. Stay up to date on immunizations. Stress can lower your immunity, so you especially need an annual flu shot. Check to make sure other adult immunizations, such as those for shingles or tetanus, are current.

2. Get an annual physical. Sure, there's debate about whether adults need one every year or not. But given that you're under a lot of pressure, probably not eating or exercising optimally, and responsible for someone else's welfare, you have plenty of reason to get a health overhaul often. Catching problems early lets you resolve them early.

3. Don't neglect vision, teeth, skin, or any special healthcare needs. Don't stop at a general health exam. The older you get, the more vulnerable you are to problems with your eyes, teeth, skin, and so on. Specialty checks can be lifesaving. And if you have a chronic disorder, be sure to keep up with the doctor(s) managing the condition(s).

4. Report worrisome new symptoms to a doctor. That bit of blood in your urine? The cough that won't go away? The leaking urine when you cough or sneeze? Don't just hope it will stop on its own. Persistent new symptoms can be clues to big problems best diagnosed and treated early.

5. Report drug side effects to a doctor. When you get a new medication or have the dosage changed, your doctor or pharmacist will forewarn you of possible side effects. When they happen, report back. Or when symptoms you didn't expect begin after a medication change, don't write them off as coincidental or "just stress." Knowledge is power to a prescribing doctor, and it can make all the difference to your well-being. Two drugs may be interacting poorly. The dosage may need adjusting, or an alternative med may need to be tried.


about 2 years ago, said...

Something ground breaking - these suggestions have been repeated many times in numerous publications.


over 3 years ago, said...

I am quite diligent about staying up to date on my "gifts". I know by listening to others how some do neglect themselves. This isn't a help to your person who is in the midst of Alzheimers. Thanks for the reminder.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Yes, I see several ones I need to take care of. Thank you for the reminder.


about 4 years ago, said...

This happened to me twice 20 yrs ago: My husband had a big medical problem, I ran around with him to doctors and was so stressed I caught a cold, recovered from the cold but was left with a lingering cough, kept saying that I'd go see about the cough when I had HIM squared away, and both times was diagnosed with pneumonia, the first time shortly after he came home from a big cancer surgery, and the second time while he was actually IN the hospital for spinal cord surgery. At the time I was in my early 40's and with antibiotic treatment I did recover. But now? I try to protect myself and do what I'm supposed to do, nevertheless I still find myself putting off appointments etc. It's not easy to say "yeah, honey, I know about your dementia and that you only feel safe with me, but I gotta go get a mammogram and a bone density and a skin survey and an eye exam and an abdominal aortic ultrasound and a physical and a pelvic exam and a bunch of blood tests and also go to my weekly caregiver support group and I need a haircut and they are coming to fix the pool heater today again because the last time they came the fix didn't work and I need to call somebody to fix the broken window blind and the caregiver has a doctor's appointment and no, he is not contagious and we gotta go get our flu shots and the notary is coming to the house because we need to close the refinance loan today but they won't have the papers done until late afternoon so I don't' know when they are coming and I have to get an order for one of your pills which we are about to run out of and it has no refills on it and I am signing us up for a different Medicare prescription insurance plan which has to be done by December 7 but will save us a lot of money next year but I can't communicate with the insurance agent by email because the email server is down and they don't have an estimated time to repair yet...and...". And so on. We are advised to maintain routine and take care of ourselves, it's true, we MUST, but, OH what a challenge it is!!!


about 4 years ago, said...

It's good to have a list to go through to make sure we ourselves as caregivers are doing well healthwise. If we get ill, who then will take over for us? Thank you for the helpful list!


about 4 years ago, said...

It is helpful to remind people to take care of themselves. The only thing is, what about people like me who have no health insurance and limited income. I need to get an eye exam (it has been over two years), but the exam cost 70 dollars, and I have to pay full price for my contact lenses. I am supposed to replace my contacts every month, but I am now 3 or 4 months on the pair I have, and they won't let me just buy the contact lenses for the same prescription, as my last exam was over two years ago.


about 4 years ago, said...

Esp. about reporting side effects.


about 5 years ago, said...

I was once again reminded that my own physical health and emotional well-being help with the daily support necessary to make my husband's health the best it can be with Alzheimer's. I try to keep both our lives in balance doing the variety of activities in life that make a person whole.


over 5 years ago, said...

We tend to neglect ourselves and focus only on our loved one's needs. Stress is the #1 cause for us to acquire new ailments, diseases, and just plain exhaustion...weight loss has been an issue for me...:(


over 5 years ago, said...

Stress consequences. Thank you