When you purchase a new vehicle, you are handed an owner’s manual with a specific maintenance schedule to be followed. This mileage-dictated timetable, suggested by the manufacturer, is in the vehicles’ best interest—and in your best interest as its owner/operator. This is because the vehicle will undergo predictable wear and tear throughout the course of its life which renders it in need of tune up or repair. Your “personal vehicle”, or body, needs similar attention.

As part of my routine questioning during an initial examination I always ask my patients when their last medical checkup was. Half the time there is ceiling staring, lip twisting and bewildered head shaking as my new patient struggles to recall his or her last trip to their doctor (that was not for an illness).

When you were young, staying on top of your “scheduled maintenance” was easy—two doctors, your primary care physician, once a year, and your dentist, twice a year. But as you age you must add a number of specialists to the mix: OB-GYN (ladies), urologist (men), ophthalmologist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, etc. This is when we begin to let our maintenance schedule slip, simply because it is difficult to keep track of all those appointments amidst our busy lives!

Well, I have a great method that I use to keep me on track with my checkups that I’d like to share with you. All you need to get started is an index card, a calendar, and your phone book.

Here is what it looks like when completed:

SPECIALIST                NAME                    PHONE                      DATE LAST SEEN

Primary                                   Dr. Bewell             (XXX-XXX-XXXX)                 3-15-13

OB-GYN                                   Dr. Infante             (XXX-XXX-XXXX)                 1-24-13

Dentist                                     Dr. Molar              (XXX-XXX-XXXX)                 10-28-13

Ophthalmologist                 Dr. I. C. Yu             (XXX-XXX-XXXX)                 7-15-13

Cardiologist                           Dr. Hartman          (XXX-XXX-XXXX)                 11-15-13

Enter the permanent information in ink, but enter the “Date Last Seen” info in pencil. Tape it inside your most used kitchen cabinet door for visibility throughout the year and update it regularly. If you can’t find the date of your last visit, call the doctor’s office. They will be able to retrieve that info quickly and you can schedule your next appointment right then and there!

Photo: Flickr

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