The start of the new year is a good time to take stock and make plans for the coming year. One area many people don’t include in their planning is health. To proactively protect your family’s health and be better prepared for any health issues that arise in 2015, take steps to ensure you have answers to these important questions.
- Do I have a complete, up-to-date copy of all my medical records? Any healthcare provider you see needs access to your medical records to provide the most appropriate treatment. The issue is that many people receive care from more than one doctor. You may see a primary care physician for routine care, an orthopedist for your back problems and a dermatologist for skin cancer surveillance. Each of these physicians needs to know what treatments and medications your other healthcare providers have prescribed to avoid unneeded or duplicate treatments and drug interactions. It’s also important that they can easily access lab results and notes from any care you receive, whether in the hospital or in a private office. In an emergency, it’s vital that the physicians treating you know your full medical history.
- Am I prepared for the traveling I’ll be doing? If you’re planning to travel for business or pleasure, you should make some preparations well before your departure. If you’re going overseas, find out what immunizations and booster shots you need and schedule a doctor’s appointment at least a month in advance. It’s also useful get a check-up to make sure there are no undiagnosed health issues that require medication or treatment. If you have a chronic health condition like heart disease or diabetes or have undergone treatment for a serious illness like cancer, consider bringing a copy of your medical record or additional medications with you in case you fall ill or are injured while away from home. Also, explore purchasing travel medical insurance that includes medical evacuation coverage.
- What should I be doing to improve my health and lower my risk of serious medical problems? This is a good time to sit down and list your health goals and challenges. Are you getting enough exercise to lower your risk of heart disease, dementia and other serious health problems? Are you following a healthy eating plan? Do you get enough sleep each night? If you have a family history of health problems like heart disease, diabetes or cancer, are you taking the right steps to lower your personal risk and receiving appropriate screenings? Talking to your physician and a health advisor can help you build and stick to a personalized health strategy.
- How would I deal with a serious illness or injury? This is something most of us would rather not think about, but having a plan and resources in place ahead of time can help ensure you have access to the most skilled and experienced physicians. It can also allow you to plan for the type and level of care you prefer. An advanced directive, also known as a living will, lets you decide what types of medical care you are willing to undergo if you aren’t able to make medical decisions. You can talk to your legal advisor about drafting an advanced directive and medical power of attorney documents. It’s better to make these decisions while you’re healthy rather than wait until you’re under stress or unable to direct your choices.
To learn about the role a health advisor can play in your planning process for 2015, please click here.