Wellness Visit

Wellness Visits at Aspen Medical are designed to keep you healthy

There are two types of visits to Aspen Medical Center. There are “problem-based visits” and “wellness visits.” A “problem-based visit” focuses on a specific problem. It may be an acute problem such as a cold or flu-like illness, an earache, a sprained ankle or other injury, a cut or laceration, a sore throat, a cough, or a fever, etc. A problem-based visit might also focus on a chronic condition or conditions, like diabetes, high cholesterol, hypothyroidism, high blood pressure or hypertension, etc. A problem-based visit can occur as often or as seldom as necessary.

What is a “wellness visit”?

The second type of visit to Aspen Medical Center is a wellness visit. The “wellness visit” is all about prevention. Wellness visits are annual physicals and generally occur once a year. We perform a head to toe physical exam at that time. These visits are designed to help you stay healthy and prevent illness. At a wellness visit, we focus on things like vaccines to prevent diseases and screening tests like pap smears for women to detect cervical cancer. If necessary, we will make referrals for mammograms to screen for breast cancer or colon cancer screening to detect colon cancer. We’ll measure your blood pressure (like we do at all visits) to screen for high blood pressure or “hypertension.” We might recommend blood work after the wellness visit to screen for health conditions such as high cholesterol and diabetes. The point of the wellness visit is to allow us to detect problems early while they are still relatively easy to treat. 

The “Medicare Wellness Visit”

For people on Medicare, which generally starts at age 65, there is a specific type of wellness visit. Medicare calls this visit an “Annual Wellness Visit” (AWV). It is very similar to our wellness visit. The AWV is also a preventive visit. During the AWV, we’ll discuss vaccines and do appropriate screenings for vision, hearing, fall risk, depression, and dementia, among others.

An ounce of prevention . . .

There has been some debate over whether regular wellness visits are necessary, but we feel they are extremely important. You know the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That is what these wellness visits are all about. We know that if we detect problems early, we have a much better chance of preventing them from getting worse or curing them altogether. Prevention is so much simpler, less complicated, cheaper, safer, less painful and more comfortable for you than waiting until problems require more care. So we welcome you to get a wellness visit at Aspen. Our goal is to help you live as long and healthy a life as possible.

Seven ways to stay healthy during cold and flu season

During the colder months of the year (which in Santa Fe, New Mexico is generally from October to April or even May), there are many upper respiratory viruses circulating that can cause colds and flu-like illnesses. This leads to missed work, doctor’s visits, and generally not feeling well—it is no fun to be sick. In the worst case scenario, influenza, or the flu, can lead to hospitalization and every year some people even die of influenza. These viruses are very contagious so when you get sick, you can expose others and make them sick as well. Although there are possible treatments for influenza (the flu), there is no cure for the common cold. Therefore, prevention is key. Here are 7 ways to improve your chances of staying healthy during cold and flu season:

1. Wash your hands. It is very important to wash your hands frequently. Wet your hands, use soap to create a lather, and then rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds; then rinse and dry. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails. This is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs and decrease your chances of getting sick.

2. Get regular exercise. It is important to get regular exercise to help your body stay healthy and to maintain a strong immune system. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends aerobic exercise. Most healthy adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, or a combination of the two. Exercise helps the body function more efficiently and helps the immune system fight off potential illnesses.

3. Drink water. Our bodies are more than 50% water. In order to stay healthy, it is important to keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water everyday. One common recommendation, the “8×8 rule,” is to drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day.

4. Get adequate sleep. If you want to stay healthy, it is important to get adequate sleep every night. When you don’t get enough rest and get “run down,” it can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. Adults vary in how much sleep they need, but most of us need 7 to 9 hours a night. Children and adolescents need more sleep.

5. Get your flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot every year, ideally before the end of October. However, getting the flu shot later in the season is okay too. In New Mexico, the flu season can last until May. The flu shot helps decrease your risk of getting the flu. It will also protect your loved ones from exposure to the flu. At Aspen Medical Center, we offer flu shots every year.

6. Eat healthy. In order to maintain an optimally functioning immune system, it is also important to eat a healthy diet. There are many different dietary recommendations out there, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid junk food (sodas, chips, candy, pre-packaged food and fast food), and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, in addition to whole grains, and healthy fats (e.g olive oil) and protein (eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, and lean meats).

7. Minimize your stress level. The immune system can be affected by stress. Some stress is inevitable, but intense prolonged stress can lead to sickness. It is important to find healthy means of coping with stress such as relaxation or calming exercises. Prayer, meditation, journaling, or talking with friends, family, or a counselor are all ways to help deal with stress. Acupuncture and massage also help alleviate the negative affects of stress. If you have anxiety, depression, or other condition that interferes with your normal functioning, then seek out a mental health practitioner or medical provider.