Preventive Health Care Check-Ups

Doctor examines patientWhat is preventive health care?

The goals of preventive health care are to: 1) help you lower their risk of getting sick, and 2) find out you are sick before their illness becomes serious.  Preventive health care is carried out through health care check-ups and health-care screenings.

Why is preventive health care important for you?
Preventive health care is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone.  It can be especially important for individuals with developmental disabilities.  People with developmental disabilities may be at higher risk of developing health problems because of their disability.  For example, people who use wheelchairs are more likely to get pressure sores.  However, a health care screening can help catch those sores early.

Preventive Health Care Check-Ups

It is important for you  to visit your primary care doctor on a regular basis.  People often see their health care provider only when they are sick or injured.  It is just as important for people to visit the doctor when they are well.  This is called a preventive health care check-up.
Individuals with developmental disabilities should see their health care provider for a preventive health care check-up at least once a year. 
You can get ready for a health care check-up using this presentation. It explains why it is important to go to the doctor, and helps you make a list of questions or concerns to bring to the doctor’s office.

What happens at a preventive health care check-up?
At a preventive health care check-up, your doctor will:
  1. Check the you from head to toe
  2. Run health care screening tests to make sure that your overall health is good
  3. Ask about any health concerns or questions you might have about the your health
Ask someone to attend the appointment with you so they can support you in:
  • Help in understanding what the doctor is doing and saying
  • Remind the you about questions you wanted to ask their health care provider
  • Take notes on any recommendations or instructions the doctor gives
If the you are generally healthy, the doctor will want to see you in another year or so.  If there are concerns about the your health, the doctor will develop a plan to address those concerns and may want to see the you more frequently.  The doctor will work with you to help improve the your health.
This series of presentations helps individuals with developmental disabilities get ready to visit the doctor.
Health Screenings

The types of screening tests done at a preventive health care check-up will depend on different factors such as a person’s age or their family health history.

  • For example, people in their twenties and thirties will not usually have their hearing and vision screened on an annual basis, while people over age fifty generally will.
  • Also, most women will not have a mammogram as part of their check-up until about age forty.  Women who have a mother or sister who has or has had breast cancer will probably need screenings earlier.

View Screening Recommendations 2009, from the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, lists all the recommended screenings that people need to get, by age, and if appropriate, by condition.  You can print it out and use it to make sure that you get all the screenings you need.