Seeking professional support for your health
In Australia, Medicare provides coverage for numerous aspects of our health. Your first port of call for medical assistance is your general practitioner or community doctor. It’s important to have a conversation about your health and wellbeing. Your doctor will be informed about what is useful or necessary for you given your age, family history or other risk factors.
The advice of general practitioners who have contributed to this module is get to know your general practitioner and let them get to know you. Your general practitioner can connect you to useful Medicare funded services. They can answer your questions. A good relationship with your general practitioner (GP) is a good support for you and eases your mind that you can find support and make a plan should you notice any changes to your physical or mental health.
Here is a video by Dr Jennifer Neil as she describes what to look for in your general practitioner:
Here is a list of what a visit to your GP should involve:
- Medical history including family history
- Blood pressure check, height, weight and waist circumference
- A physical examination including breast examination
- Blood tests as determined by your own and family risk factors such as cholesterol or blood sugar
- Other tests as necessary, such as cervical and breast screenings
- Preventative measures such as flu shots
Here is a list of topics that you may discuss or raise with your GP:
- Breast awareness
- Healthy weight, nutrition and weight creep
- Physical activity
- Urinary incontinence
- Bone health, calcium intake and vitamin D, risks for osteoporosis
- Skin changes/skin cancer check
- Risky behaviours –smoking, problem drinking, poor nutrition, inactivity, social isolation
- Depression or mood changes
- Hormonal changes of perimenopause/menopause
- Physical symptoms and mood changes of menopause
- Sexual health issues, and those related to menopause or to normal ageing
There are many other health professionals in the community. Some may provide services that you find very beneficial. Module 4 presents some information about managing stress and highlights the usefulness of psychological or counselling services for mental health. Module 5 presents information about physical activity and highlights the role of physiotherapy in reducing barriers to physical activity. Module 6 presents information about health eating for you and your family and highlights the knowledge and benefit of seeking a dietitian’s support. These are only a few of the health professionals available in Australia. See your general practitioner to learn about others.
Here are some words from past participants about health and professional support:
(Since the workshops) I’ve seen my GP and I’ve got a mental health plan and I’m seeing a psychologist… I never got around to doing anything about [my mental health]… the most valuable [part for me] was realising that you treat a mental illness as you would a physical illness.
When [the presenters] put up the statistics… I just thought, hey, I’m an older mum… I really need my energy, because my two boys are five and three…Instead of just saying, “I’ll get to it one day”, I thought, no, I’ll address it... I [saw] a rheumatologist to address everyday pain… my GP… the dentist….