David W. Gehring, MD, is board certified in internal medicine.
At Inova, we take a personalized, patient-centered approach to primary healthcare. When we treat patients, we consider their medical needs, of course. But we also consider the behaviors that drive those health needs.
One key to providing personalized healthcare is considering how a patient’s medical needs and behaviors differ across generations.
The Millennial Generation (18 to 34)
Young adults are often less likely than other groups to visit a doctor unless they are sick. Nevertheless, we encourage millennial patients to touch base with their doctors once a year to discuss healthy behaviors.
Regular visits allow primary care doctors to keep patients’ medical histories up to date, check their vital signs and discuss high-risk behaviors such as binge drinking and texting while driving. We can also screen for behavioral health problems such as eating disorders, depression and anxiety — problems that are not uncommon in this age group, and which may not always be obvious.
Generation X (35 to 50)
As a result, we recommend tests to establish baseline values for markers of these diseases. This is also a good time to do preventive screenings for problems such as thyroid disorders and prostate disease. We also recommend colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer.
For the greatest health success through middle age and beyond, we advise patients to engage in regular physical activity and eat a healthy, mostly plant-based diet.
Baby Boomers (51 to 69)
People in this generation often find themselves caring for aging parents. That caregiver role can provide a window into what life has in store for the future and can be a powerful incentive to inspire patients to make healthy changes in their own lives.
Physical activity continues to be extremely important as patients get older. Walking at least 30 minutes a day can help increase heart and lung capacity. Strength and balance training are also very valuable for continued good health.
Greatest Generation (70 and Up)
For older patients, remaining independent is a priority. We recommend annual mental status exams to help ensure that patients can drive safely and continue to feel safe in their homes. It’s also important to do regular reviews of patients’ medications. Our goal is always to have patients take as few prescription medications as possible to maintain good health.
Accidental falls are also a concern for older patients, and they can be devastating. To minimize the risk of falls, we encourage regular exercise to maintain good core strength and balance.
Healthy Habits at Every Age
At any age, simple lifestyle changes can have the greatest impact on individual health. Adopting new habits isn’t always easy. It can take 6 to 8 weeks of consistently doing something new before it becomes mentally and physically routine.
Overcoming bad habits is challenging, but Inova’s primary care specialists are committed to helping patients achieve excellent health at any age.
Find an Inova primary care doctor near you.