Dec 9th, 2012 | By | Category: For Senior Women

Well-Woman Exam is the New Name

An annual physical for women is now being referred to as a ‘well-woman exam’ (wellness exam).  It is preventive medical care and covered by Medicare almost entirely. This editor was prompted to have hers done last week because her supplemental insurance provider (her MediGap Coverage) offers a reduced premium if the annual preventive physical is done every year.  Good incentive!

We thought a review and analysis of what she encountered in her wellness exam might be helpful to other senior women as a guide line only.  This information should never be used as medical advice; only your primary care physician can provide medical advice for your unique needs.

Here’s what happened:

  • The appointment was scheduled with orders to come in ‘fasting’… that is, to not have anything to eat or drink (except water) for eight hours before the exam; she was advised to be well hydrated (drink lots of water);
  • Upon her arrival, she was asked to complete a ‘Medicare’ questionnaire that reviewed her current health issues, any questions or concerns she might want to talk with the doctor about, and updated information collected in her annual physical from last year;
  • Blood was drawn for lab review to determine her cholesterol level, kidney function, blood sugar levels, and screening for any other possible health issues that have not yet surfaced; vital signs were taken and documented;
  • Her primary care physician is currently away from the office working on a project with other physicians in the area, so another doc from the office team conducted the physical exam; there are a number of physicians in this office, and each is board certified and highly capable and patient-friendly; the physical exam was the screening-type that looked for any symptomatic issues that might need to be pursued;

Senior Woman Input On Health Care Decisions

  • The physician did something this editor considers highly important:  She asked for patient input regarding additional testing that might be conducted, including mammogram, bone-density screening and colon screening. She was pretty insistent about the mammogram because this editor is in the age high-risk range (60-75) for breast cancer; although the self-exam is done regularly, she described how the mammogram can detect cancer before it can be felt, and early detection is the key to successful cancer treatment.  Her argument was convincing.
  • The colonoscopy is done every five years if there are no polyps from the last one, and that is not due until next year, so that test was put on schedule for 2013.
  • The bone density screening (DEXA screening) is conducted based on patient history; her screenings have been off-the-chart-positive forever, and the physician is not in favor of unnecessary radiation for screenings in this situation.
  • The pap smear, as well, was delayed for another two years–not necessary with the set of circumstances documented historically.
  • She gave this editor written information regarding her cholesterol, recommendations to continue an active exercise program, continuing a low fat/high fiber diet and a prescription for medication to treat a mild thyroid deficiency.  On the way out, she jokingly said, “If you stay this healthy, we will have to pay you to come in for your well-woman exam!”

Medline offers a complete discussion of medical issues that need to be addressed for women over 65.  Because the needs of women change in their senior years, the list Medline offers is based on the needs of senior women, and SCJ recommends this be used as a starting point.  There is nothing that should replace your visit with your primary care physician, and the advice and recommendations she has to offer.

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