Navigating the New Normal: Have You Scheduled Your Annual Checkup?

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Home Instead shares helpful tips to help seniors prioritize health amid the pandemic

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Scheduling time to see your health care provider can feel overwhelming at any age, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The best way to navigate this process is by preparing in advance.

Over the past 12 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on many communities and families. In addition to the long-term impact of the virus, the pandemic has led to widespread and unforeseen side effects, including the delay or cancellation of medical appointments due to fear of exposure to the virus. The aging population has been particularly impacted, opting to avoid the potential risks of leaving home.

In fact, according to a nationwide survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University Chicago, 1 in 6 older adults delayed or canceled essential medical treatment in the first month of the pandemic alone. Of those who deferred care, almost 40% put off non-essential treatment, while nearly a third went without preventative or primary care. Regular checkups and appointments are essential to maintain good overall health, as well as prevent and/or detect the progression of common diseases. This can be particularly devastating for seniors managing chronic illnesses.

“Routine visits to the doctor are a fundamental investment in our physical well-being and become increasingly important as we age,” says Lakelyn Hogan, Ph.D., gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead. “Seniors are typically more susceptible to chronic diseases and conditions, and yearly checkups allow doctors to monitor and observe changes in a patient’s health, identify signs of illness early on and recommend the necessary treatments.”

For those who still have reservations about visiting their medical provider, telemedicine has made it possible to “visit” your doctor over the phone or via video session, presenting seniors with additional alternatives to in-person visits.

Scheduling time to see your health care provider can feel overwhelming at any age, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The best way to navigate this process is by preparing in advance. Below, Hogan shares a few suggestions to help aging adults plan ahead for a visit to the doctor and better anticipate what to expect.

  • Do your homework. Health concerns and needs change over time, and so has the current health care landscape. Before making an appointment, spend time researching which doctor best aligns with your needs and objectives for your checkup. What type of doctor are you looking for? Are they conveniently located? Are they within your insurance network? Do they have a positive reputation? What COVID-19 protocols have they put in place? It’s important to be thorough in your research and find someone who will make you feel comfortable.
  • Explore appointment options. Due to the pandemic, many physicians have expanded options to offer virtual visits. While several practices have resumed in-person checkups, some doctors may still only provide remote care at this time. If preferred, telemedicine appointments offer many benefits including convenience, limited exposure to germs and increased ability for caregivers or family members to act as advocates in real time. Talk to your provider about options for the safest way to schedule your visit and make sure to plan ahead for both options, either by arranging transportation to and from the doctor’s office or setting up a virtual workstation with good internet connection.
  • Bring everything needed for a successful visit. Before your checkup, prepare to bring all necessary documents, such as a list of current medical conditions, allergies and medications, as well as up-to-date insurance information, health records and test results, if needed. You can also compile a list of questions you would like to ask and any new information that needs to be shared since the last visit, as this information will help your appointment flow more efficiently and effectively. Now is a good time to ensure you’re up to date on your vaccinations. If you have any questions around the flu or COVID-19 vaccine, this is a great time to talk with your doctor.
  • Don’t overlook specialists. In addition to scheduling regular visits with primary care physicians, you should also plan to see specialists such as the eye doctor and dentist on an annual basis. For example, an ophthalmologist can help catch early signs of age-related eye problems, including vision loss and cataracts.
  • Follow public health guidelines. If planning for an in-person visit, remember to follow standard COVID-19 precautions. This includes wearing a face mask, using hand sanitizer, avoiding touching your face, practicing social distancing and following any additional staff directives.

While visiting the doctor is important at any age, it is especially crucial for older adults who face greater risks. Our health is of the utmost importance, which is why it is imperative not to delay or avoid medical care. Whether scheduling an appointment virtually or in-person, now is the time to prioritize the care you deserve.

For more information on how to stay on top of your health and wellness, visit:


Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, the Home Instead® franchise network provides personalized care, support and education to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, the network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for older adults, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 80 million hours of care annually throughout the United States and 13 other countries. Local Home Instead offices employ approximately 90,000 CAREGivers℠ worldwide who provide basic support services that enable older adults to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Instead franchise owners partner with clients and their family members to help meet varied individual needs. Services span the care continuum – from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources. Visit Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Dan Wieberg
Home Instead Senior Care
+1 (402) 575-5970
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