Preventative Care

Preventative Care

Preventive Medicine Is The Key To Health

Senior Healthcare Lecture #1

By Martha M. Rodriguez, M.D.,

Many working parts contribute to your best care. However, what is better than treating symptoms? Working towards never acquiring them. At MMR Healthcare, we heavily practice preventive medicine. We work with our patients to check off every box on our list towards a healthier lifestyle.

Below you will find the basics steps we must take TOGETHER to ensure that we are all accounting for your care. Your journey towards maintaining health requires not only an attentive doctor but also a proactive perspective.

What should I always be carrying?:

Part of preventative care is being a patient who is aware of their body and what you do to treat it. There are certain things that you should always have on you so that any healthcare provider you may say is in the loop. It is also essential in case of an emergency.

  • Allergy list: Allergies are ever-changing and, in some cases, fatal. Your healthcare provider needs to know if that has changed. Also, if you experience an emergency, the hospital needs to see if you are allergic to certain medications.
  • ICE or In Case of Emergencies: ICE is a list of emergency contacts, including names, phone numbers, and addresses of at least two people. These people should be ones you trust will be there for you in case of an emergency.
  • EKG (electrocardiography): Having a small copy of your latest EKG is essential. Your past EKG will let your healthcare provider know if there are any changes in your current electrocardiography.
  • Medication list: You should always have a list of all the medications you are on. Your list should be updated two times a year or whenever your medicines change. Include the name of the drug and dose.

All of these things can be put into an envelope or made small for your wallet or purse. It is crucial to keep all of this information on you at all times.

What should you keep at home?:

Everything you keep on you at all times, you should have a copy at home. In addition, keep records of your medical history. Always ask for copies of any tests or your summary of visits. Organized documentation is essential so that when you can’t remember, you can refer to any information that may contribute to your health plan.

Establish a safe and memorable place in your home to keep your medical history, medication list, in-case-of-emergency list, allergy list, and most recent EKG (electrocardiography).

Medication Review:

If you take any medication, it is vital to have your documentation of what you take and the dose of each medication. Also important is coordinating this with your doctor by practicing medication reviews. At MMR Healthcare, our in-house pharmacist can assist you in medication review. By doing this, you take additional action into making sure that all your medications are working with each other, not against each other.

Annual Wellness Visits and Physicals:

Each year every patient is required to visit their doctor for a yearly wellness visit and physical. This visit goes beyond checking your basic body functions.

At this visit, you will have your physical, but also participate in a broader conversation on what it means to create a safe and healthy environment for yourself. You will answer questions such as; Are there plugs lying around your house that may be a fall risk? Are you using proper lighting? Are you exercising regularly?

This visit is crucial to mapping out the future of your preventative care plan. Each year we need to establish a check-point. This check-point lets us know how you are doing and how to move forward. Just as a car needs an oil change, you need an annual wellness visit and physical.

EKG (electrocardiography):

An EKG or electrocardiography is our way of mapping the electricity of your heart. Just as a wellness visit/physical establishes a check-point, so does an EKG. Electrocardiography does not tell us if you are going to have a heart attack in the near future. However, it does establish if the way your heart is functioning is at the base level of normality. We need to understand this so that we can decide if you need treatment for heart issues.

Colonoscopies:

Colonoscopies are never something to look forward to, but there is no other way to get a view of your intestines. You may acquire a stool test at the doctor’s office. However, unless there is blood in the stool, this test doesn’t show us dangerous polyps developing in your intestines. Getting a colonoscopy can be life or death for patients with the potential of colon cancer. Everyone under 75 years old should get a colonoscopy every ten years. If your family has a history of colon cancer, the recommendation is that you get a colonoscopy every five years.

Mammograms:

At what age should women stop getting mammograms? The answer is, never! Women ages 40 to 54 should have a mammogram every year. Women 55 and older should continue to get mammograms every two years. As you progress in age, the risk of breast cancer lessons. However, just as in the case of colonoscopies, a mammogram is always worth the inconvenience no matter your age.

Bone Density Test:

The density test is done on each patient to test the strength and integrity of their bones. As you get older, your bones become frail and weakened. Weak bones can lead to falls being fatal or extremely dangerous. Your doctor will administer a bone density test, and a plan is conceived based on what you require. In cases where the patient has arthritis or other syndromes that influence the integrity of the bones, the results of the bone density test may be affected. However, your doctor will work with your medical history to establish the actual status of your bone health.

Vaccinations:

Vaccinations are a hot topic right now but have worked to save many lives. There are a few vaccinations that we highly recommend for the senior community; the flu shot, Pneumovax, and the shingles shot. In many cases acquiring the viruses to fight may be life-threatening.

The Flu Shot:

    • The flu is a seasonal virus that is most active starting in October. MMR Healthcare recommends that you receive your flu shot at the beginning of October so that you are covered for the entire season. Note that this vaccine administers a version of the virus that is dead and cannot lead to you getting the flu.
    • In some cases, you may get flu symptoms. These symptoms are just your body reacting to the virus and working to build up your immunity. However, since the virus is dead, you will not be at risk for the damaging consequences of the live virus in the air during the Fall and Winter months. The most recently developed flu shot defends your body from the deadly strains of the flu. MMR Healthcare recommends you visit our clinic, your pharmacy or Publix to get your flu shot as early as October 1st.
  • Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23:
    • Pneumococcal bacteria can cause many diseases ranging from pneumonia (lung infection) and meningitis (brain infection) to severe infections of the blood.
    • In order to prevent pneumonia, you must receive two vaccinations. First, Prevnar 13. This shot works against 13 strains of pneumonia.
    • A year after your first shot you must receive Pneumovax 23. The Pneumovax is used to prevent pneumonia caused by 23 different types of pneumococci bacteria.
    • Once you have taken both shots you are covered for your entire life.
  • Shingles Vaccine:
    • The shingles vaccine is critical in the elderly. Shingle is a mature version of chickenpox that appears in older people. This vaccine is vital whether or not you got chickenpox as a child. The most recent version of this vaccine is in two doses. You will receive one shot and then a second within two and sixth months after your first dose.

Regular blood work:

Checking in regularly with blood work is crucial to your preventative care and health. Your blood tells us a lot about how your body is working. Blood work turns your blood into numbers and data to determine what areas of your body need to be targeted and helped. In many cases, we can catch a red flag before it becomes a serious problem.

Dehydration:

  • Staying hydrated is essential for all ages. Providing your body with water is what allows proper blood floor and urination. Without these procedures to function properly, you may experience faintness, migraines, cramping, urinary infections, and more. Remember the 8×8 rule: eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day will keep you hydrated and healthy.
  • Dehydration can also greatly effect certain medications such as statins, blood thinners, blood sugar medications, etc. When your kidneys respond to dehydration they retain the medication that is supposed to pass through urine. This can lead to high levels of medication in your body.

Fall prevention:

Fall prevention is easy to implement. The first place to look is yourself. In every stage of life, you need to know your limits. Find out what your body can do and where you need assistance. That may mean obtaining assistive devices such as a walker or cane. Remember to get your assistive device customized to your body, so no further damage is done. Next, see what obstacles are in your way at home and think outside of the box. Make sure to use proper lighting, use bars in the shower, make sure plugs and rugs aren’t tripping hazards, etc. If you are incontinent, make sure you are using added protection.

Medical Alert Buttons: 

Medical Alert Buttons are life-saving for seniors. In case of emergency, you cannot rely on others or yourself to get help. A medical alert button will get a paramedic to whereever you are.

Eyecare:

Eyecare is more than just treating loss of vision. It can also help determine if you are at risk for diabetes. In any case, everyone should get an eye exam at least every two years. If you are aware of the loss of vision, you need to get an eye exam as soon as possible, especially if you are driving.

Dental Care:

Your teeth have a surprising impact on the rest of your body. For example, excessive bacteria in the mouth can lead to damage in the heart and kidneys. Seniors are recommended to have a dental exam at least every two years.