It is common knowledge that women put the needs of loved ones before their own.
In neglecting themselves, women can bring the whole system down. A woman in good health sustains her family, the community and society as a whole.
This is the message of the late Dr Dorothy Jean Hailes AM whose pioneering work in establishing health clinics for women and advocating women's health issues in Australia led to the creation of the Jean Hailes Foundation.
The Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness amongst women of potential health issues. Women's Health Week, running from 7 to 11 September 2020, is one of the Foundation's initiatives to encourage Australian women to take stock of their health and visit their GP.
With the COVID-19 pandemic adding an additional layer of stress to our lives, it's more important than ever to visit your GP for your regular health checks. I personally do this annually around my birthday (as a reminder).
Recent reporting from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) sadly shows that women are not looking after themselves with a 24% drop in women visiting GPs from March to June 2020.
Women's Health Week has arrived to prompt us to make that appointment. The RACGP says the majority of GPs are offering telehealth and GP surgeries have measures in place to ensure face-to-face visits are safe.
Women's Health: What To Check
What should you have on your list for that visit? Take some guidance from the World Health Organisation's Top 10 Health Checks for Women:
- A blood pressure check to measure the risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
- A blood glucose check to measure the risk of diabetes.
- A Body Mass Index check to measure the risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
- A lipid profile check to assess the risk of developing heart disease or stroke.
- Bone density screening, from the age of 65 years, to test for osteoporosis and the risk of fractures and low body weight.
- Breast screening for breast cancer, every two years from the age of 50 years, or earlier where there is a family history.
- Bowel Screening for bowel cancer, every two years from 50 years of age. Make sure you receive your free test kit available through the National Bowel Screening Program.
- Dental check ups every six months to keep your mouth healthy and avoid related illnesses.
- Cervical screening for cervical cancer, every three to five years.
- An annual skin examination for skin cancer.
Note: This information is general and does not take into consideration your personal situation or current health.
It is a long list so perhaps initially focus on the tests that address the leading causes of death for older Australian women - heart disease, stroke, dementia, breast cancer and falls. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are the leading risk factors. 
While women live longer than men, older Australian women experience much higher rates of profound or severe disability than males of the same age. So women of Australia, be aware of your health - act now, act annually and age gracefully!
I'll end with the advice of Dr Jean Hailes AM:
- Know the facts;
- Keep yourself fit;
- Find a good doctor to talk to;
- Ask for a second opinion.
If you are older, living alone, experiencing illness or managing a disability, and not motivated to make regular health checks with your GP, please feel free call me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, to discuss some care planning that can help you get back on track.
DR Care Solutions offers expertise on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place.