Even when you don’t have any specific problems, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your health.
Regular health checks – including blood pressure, eye tests and dental examinations – are important because they can identify problems early on when they are easier to treat and outcomes are likely to be better.
Health awareness campaigns
Keep a look out for health awareness campaigns/events like Stroke Month (May), Carers Week (June), Men’s Health Week (June), Keep Well This Winter (winter months) and Know Your Numbers Week (September) which may offer free health checks in community settings.
Managing your long-term conditions
If you have a long-term condition it’s really important for you to attend all your scheduled GP and hospital appointments so that any deterioration (or improvement) in your condition is identified and your medication/treatment changed if necessary.
Some health screenings are only offered to people of a certain age, gender and lifestyle, or to those with a family history of a specific illness, for example early breast screening for women with a high incidence of breast cancer in the family.
Breast Test Wales invites women aged between 50 and 70 to be screened every three years at locations across Wales. You can choose to be screened after the age of 70; however, you will need to make an appointment.
If you are a woman aged between 25 and 64, Cervical Screening Wales will write to you every three years (or five after you reach 50), inviting you to arrange a smear test at your GP surgery.
Wales Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening is offered to men over 65.
Bowel Screening Wales offers home test kits to people in Wales between 60 and 74 years. Kits will be sent out in the post.
Staying healthy as a carer
It’s easy to neglect your own health when you’re looking after someone else. Ask your GP to put a note on your records to say you are a carer and always attend your own health appointments and check-ups (arrange respite if necessary).
Looking After Me is a free six-week course (two-and-a-half hours a week) to encourage carers to acknowledge their own health needs.
Getting to appointments
The Patient Care Service transports people to and from outpatient appointments at clinics, hospitals and day centres. Vehicles are suitable for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility.
If you do not meet the criteria, you may wish to arrange community transport, use local transport or book a taxi.
Looking after your teeth
Poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, infection and, ultimately, tooth loss. Dentists can also pick up on other health problems, including mouth cancers. Dental treatment is not free for everyone; however, people on certain benefits do not have to pay. A check up costs £14.00 (NHS, 2017) and the maximum charge for treatment is £190 for a course of treatment (NHS, 2017).
Some dentists only do NHS work, some only do private work and some do a mixture of NHS and private work. Visit NHS Direct Wales to find a dentist.
If you spend a lot of time on a computer, struggle to read in certain lights or can’t read a nearby sign, you need your eyes tested. If you already wear glasses, get your eyes retested at least every two years.
Routine eye tests are not free for everyone; however, certain people (including over 60s and those on certain benefits) do not pay for them. Emergency eye tests are usually free.
Visit NHS Direct Wales to find an optician.
If you are having hearing problems, tell your GP. They will check if you have a build-up of wax (and may arrange for you to have your ears syringed). If wax isn’t the problem, you’ll be referred to a specialist to find out the cause of your hearing loss. If you do need a hearing aid, you can decide whether to have a free NHS one, or pay for your own.
Add to Your Life is a free NHS Wales health check. Answer questions about your lifestyle, health, future hopes and well-being, and you will receive suggestions on how to stay fit and make positive changes to your life.
Man MOT is a free, confidential online health information service designed by and for men.