Give yourself an upgrade

If your glasses work best when they’re perched on the top of your head then maybe you should be demanding better service. Service from yourself that is.

Consider your maintenance contract. If you were to buy it from someone else, would you sign? Do you go to regular check-ups? Are you happy with your GP? Would you be able to spot your dentist in a line-up? Make 2017 the year you give yourself an upgrade on how you look after yourself.


Get ready for using more of your smile


We all know that looking after our teeth not only limits the potential of toothache in the future but is also linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, infections and inflammation, and improving our overall health. These are big benefits for a little discomfort every six or twelve months.


If you don’t attend your dentist as often as you should, what’s holding you back?


According to its website, the NHS says it is “required to meet the needs of the local population”. So if you think the only option is private care and you can’t afford that, take the NHS at its word.


If you can’t find an NHS dentist in your area, the NHS will tell you where to find your nearest provider. In England and Wales call 0300 311 2233. In Scotland the info is on the NHS 24 website and in Northern Ireland it’s on


If the problem is personality rather than cash, you can chop and change dentist practices in the same way you’d take your car to a different garage. Ask friends and neighbours for recommendations and if you don’t like what you find, move on.


If you’re considering cosmetic dentistry, including trying services abroad, the General Dental Council has produced some handy guides


Give yourself some tough love and make that appointment.


Dr Feelgood


For years I secretly dreaded that I was seriously ill because I’d lost faith in my GP. Each doctor at the practice had been more impatient and rude than the last, and that was with easy, everyday things. I couldn’t face how they’d respond to a collection of aches and general feeling of malaise so I worried myself silly instead. When I finally changed practices, my worries along with many of my symptoms, vanished.


You can join any GP’s practice so long as you live within its catchment area and it is taking on new patients. You don’t have to ask your current GP if you can leave and you don’t have to tell your new GP why you want to change, though they might ask.


For those who like to roll up their sleeves and work to improve things, you could ask if your surgery has a patient participation group and if not, you could start one.


To support your GP in campaigning for more funding, join the Put Patients First campaign being run by the Royal College of General Practitioners


Blinking lovely


Even if your sight is very good, you should still take the health of your eyes seriously. An eye exam can detect the symptoms of conditions in other parts of the body and if you’ve been having headaches you might just find that a new pair of specs is the cure.


If you have an old pair of glasses held together with tape, an updated prescription and a fresh new style of frame will make you look and feel so much better.


Contact lenses are far more comfortable to wear than they were in years gone by. If you like a bargain, look out for sales and offers run by most high street opticians.


While we’re on a roll


If you had to pay for the food you serve yourself, would you? The thing is, you already have. Do you provide yourself with a budget, standard or premium catering service? It’s reasonable to expect a budget service would offer two healthy meals a day, a standard service would offer three and a premium service would be strictly tailored to your individual dietary needs, having researched potential allergies and be deploying a zero tolerance approach to your personal weaknesses.


Does the average dog get more exercise than you? If you can’t do better for yourself than a half-decent dog walker then you need to make some changes today. The government’s health experts recommend a minimum of 150minutes each week of exercise that gets your heart pumping. If you’re worried that exercise might do you more harm than good, give yourself a brisk walk to your GP for a check-up.


What’s the secret of those people who look polished all the time? A good maintenance contract with themselves. Whether it’s a daily top to toe moisturizing, a monthly day at the spa or a six-weekly trim at the hairdresser, they keep that appointment with themselves and the results show.


How often should I get a check up?


Depending on the state of your teeth, dental check-ups tend to be between six months and two years apart. If you haven’t seen a dentist in over two years, let one have a look at you.


The NHS is currently doing free Health Checks, every five years, for people aged between 40 and 74. Some medical experts say that you should get your blood pressure and BMI checked every year. Currently cervical screening tests are recommended every three years for women aged 25 to 49 and every five years from 50 to 65. Mammograms are every three years if you’re aged between 50 and 70.


Healthy eyes should see an optician at least every two years. This is for general eye health as well as the ability to read without pulling strange faces.


To many people these habits are second nature but some never get the chance to learn them and some fall off or get knocked off the wagon. If you’ve been caring for someone, had physical or mental health problems of your own or been squeezed too hard by the time pressures of family life and the need to make a living then you’re more in need than most. Treat yourself to the service you deserve.


Image by / lzf

First published in Widows and Widowers magazine, Issue 13


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