What is preventative health care?
When it comes to managing our health care, many of us take a reactive approach. When we get sick, we react by going to the doctor. Or to the emergency room. Many Canadians have heard about prevention, but may interpret it in broad strokes, and assume it’s simply a matter of eating better, drinking less, exercising more and not smoking. But it’s so much more than that. And it all starts with a mindset.
The data is clear. A preventative mindset regarding your health pays off over the long term.1
Early detection and intervention for certain conditions can dramatically extend lifespan and increase quality of life. Here is a checklist of preventative actions you can take now to maintain your health and help prevent future problems.
√ Yearly physicals
A yearly physical and wellness exam is foundational to a preventative health care routine, regardless of your age or health history. Not all exams are the same. Some tests may not need to be done every year. Older adults or people with certain health conditions may need to see a doctor more often. Discuss with your doctor what kind of schedule you should establish and maintain for your wellness exams.2
Preventative action: Book a check-in with your health care professional and discuss any health-related issues you think you may have during your visit.
√ Regular health screenings
Depending on your age, health and lifestyle, you may be eligible for numerous specific health screening and testing programs which can help detect serious illnesses early, when they are most treatable. These can include screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, hearing and much more. Genetic screening is also something that many people are interested in, as certain diseases can run in families.
Preventative action: Discuss with your primary care physician which tests you should have and how often you should have them.3
√ Mental health care
Mental health is health, so take a proactive approach to incorporating mental health care into your loved one’s routine. Today, programs are in place to eliminate the stigma around mental health.4
This is encouraging because anxiety, depression and other mental health issues are serious problems in Canada. They can lead to substance abuse, eating disorders and increased levels of stress, among other complications. In fact, those living with mental illness are twice as likely as other Canadians to experience substance use.5
Preventative action: Discuss any questions or concerns with your health care professional. They can direct you towards the help and support you and your loved ones need. If you feel that your concerns are urgent, speak with a doctor right away.
√ Vision care
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. They also give health care professionals a view into your overall health. Right now, millions of Canadians are living with diseases that can lead to blindness. Because a preventative approach to health care is so effective, some forms of blindness can be characterized as preventable conditions. While two-thirds of Canadians have not had an eye examination in the past year, check-ins and early treatment can greatly reduce the number of people at risk for vision loss.
Preventative action: Prioritize vision care and see the results.6 Wearing prescription eyewear can also help to prevent headaches,7 muscle strain caused by straining your neck to see things more closely, and may help to detect early signs of heart attack and diabetes.8
√ Oral care
It may start with a nicer smile, but incorporating oral hygiene into your preventative health care routine can also prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which helps you keep your teeth as you age and preserve the shape of your face. Health care professionals have also identified a link between oral hygiene, cardiovascular issues, and a host of other serious illnesses.9
Preventative action: Book and maintain regular dental checkups and cleanings with your dentist to help maintain good oral health.
Be preventative with your loved one’s health. Get ahead and stay ahead of physical and mental health concerns so that you can enjoy a longer, healthier, happier life.4
Individual circumstances may vary. Always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.
Visit Manulife.com/infoalumni to learn more about the insurance plans available to you.
1 “Health Care Industry Insights: Why the Use of Preventive Services Is Still Low”, CDC, 2019.
2 “Is an annual physical necessary? The doctor is out on that one…”, CTV News, 2021. https://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/is-an-annual-physical-necessary-the-doctor-is-out-on-that-one-1.2017959
3 Health Screening, Provincial Health Services Authority, 2022.
4 “Anti-Stigma”, Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2022. https://mentalhealthcommission.ca/what-we-do/stigma-and-discrimination/
5 “Mental Health and Substance Abuse”, Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2022. https://mentalhealthcommission.ca/what-we-do/mental-health-and-substance-use/
6 “5 Reasons Canada Desperately Needs a National Eye Care Strategy”, Readers Digest Canada, 2021. https://www.readersdigest.ca/health/healthy-living/national-eye-care-strategy/
7 “9 major signs you need glasses”, Magruder Eye Institute, 2021.
8 “8 Health Problems That Can Be Detected Through an Eye Exam”, AARP, 2021.
9 “How does dental health affect heart health?”, Yonge Eglinton Dental, 2021. https://www.yongeeglintondental.com/2021/01/04/how-does-dental-health-affect-heart-health/