An unhealthy household is a stressful (and dangerous) thing. When it comes to the health of you, your family, and even your pets, it’s vital that you don’t take any shortcuts. Though it’s too often glossed over in school, every adult needs to know how to handle their regular medical appointments – as well as emergency care.
Regular appointments: your first line of defense
When it comes to healthcare, the first rule is simple: you should have a primary care physician. You primary care physician is your regular doctor, the one you see for physicals and check-ups. He or she will refer you to specialists if you need them. A pediatrician is a primary care physician for children.
While our nation’s healthcare laws are in flux, it’s important that you try as hard as you can to budget for and acquire health insurance for every member of your family. A typical health insurance plan will cover regular check-ups with your primary care physician, and good ones will help you out significantly with emergencies and specialists.
There’s no general rule on how often you should see your doctor, but your primary care physician will let you know how soon you should come back. Many patients will have one appointment every six months, but others will visit once a year. Still more will come in quite frequently because of specific health concerns. It’s important that your doctor make this call – nobody on the internet can make it for you.
Emergencies and in-between care
If you break your leg, you won’t want to wait until your next appointment with a primary care physician. That’s when you head to the emergency room – a costly but necessary move.
What’s less clear is what you should do when you encounter something that’s not quite an emergency. What if you have a terrible earache, or think you have strep throat? If it’s a weekend or your primary care physician is booked up, that doesn’t mean you have to go to the emergency room. The in-between option is an urgent care center. Urgent care centers have trained doctors available on weekends and at odd hours, ready to fill the gap between regular physician visits and emergency room visits. Urgent care doctors can also do things primary care physicians do, including physicals – making them a good choice for folks without primary care physicians or for last-minute summer camp physicals that Mom forgot about.
What about your pets?
A pediatrician for the kids and an adult primary care physician for Mom and Dad will pretty much cover your family’s medical needs. But don’t forget about the pets! Pet insurance is a real thing, and it can actually be a literal lifesaver for pets. Pets can have very costly medical issues, and it’s extremely difficult to weigh the value of your pet’s life against the high cost of care – while we’d all love to have enough money to keep our pets around forever, it’s hard to justify spending as much on Rover as we do on our kids. Pet insurance is an affordable way to avoid this dilemma, meaning you’ll never have to choose between your finances and your furry friend.
In addition to pet insurance, you’ll want to give your pet what you have: a primary care doctor. In your pet’s case, that’s the vet! Visit regularly – while vets aren’t cheap, they can catch problems early and save you money in the long run.
Your pet’s appearance matters, too. Dog owners should visit the groomer regularly and invest in products like decent dog shampoo and tear stain removal products. Pay attention to what you feed your cat or dog, because good food means a healthier coat. This isn’t all about looks – a well-groomed animal is more comfortable and healthier.
Care isn’t complicated
Caring for your whole household isn’t easy, but it’s easier when you have the basics down. Regular visits to primary care doctors, pediatricians, and veterinarians will keep problems more manageable, and these experts can direct you to specialists when the need arises.