You take your kid for regular checkups without fail, but when was the last time you saw your family doctor for a yearly physical?
If it has been a while, go ahead and make an appointment. It’s important for your health—and for your kids.
“If children see their parents go to the doctor, they’re more likely to go to the doctor when they grow up,” says Dr. Suhaib Haq, family practice physician at University Medicine Associates. “You’re setting the example for your kids.
“How many times do you see a child refuse to get a vaccination, but when the parent gets the flu shot, then the kid follows,” he said. “If you really love your kids, you need to love your health, too.”
One of the biggest barriers to adults visiting their primary care physician is lack of time. Taking off time from work or coordinating childcare can be challenging.
To address that problem, Haq suggests making an appointment the same day as taking your child for a regular checkup. Many times, there’s a doctor in the same building as the pediatrician—or your family doctor may also see children—so you can knock out both visits on the same day.
Your family doctor is a one-stop shop.
A family doctor can also take care of nearly all your medical needs, preventing the extra time and added expense of visiting specialists to treat various conditions. In addition to an annual physical, family physicians can conduct well-woman exams and order mammograms, cancer screenings, colonoscopies and other preventive screenings. They also treat chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid issues, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and others to prevent complications and improve patients’ quality of life.
“I may see a patient who has three different specialists, but I am the one person who is keeping track of what all these specialists are doing for the patient,” says Dr. Monika Kapur, a family practice physician and president of the University Medicine Associates, a physician practice group. “I am looking at the person as a whole and not just their heart or their kidney, and that’s why I recommend patients have a PCP.”
Ultimately, taking care of your own health is just as important as taking care of your children’s health.
“Parents want to be there for their children when they are young and little, but they also want to be there for their children in the long run,” Kapur says. “They want to be there when their children graduate from college and be there for their weddings, and to do that, they have to take care of themselves today.”