Looking after your health
Rohan Fullwood speaks with Nathan about health check-ups and how he takes care of his body and mind.
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An important part of looking after yourself as you age is having a regular health check with your doctor – even if you aren’t feeling sick.
45-year-old Rohan Fullwood recently went to his GP for a routine check-up. The GP had results from various assessments, including:
• a blood screening,
• an ear, nose and throat exam,
• an ophthalmologist report, and
• a neurologist report.
In particular, Rohan and his GP talked about his recent neuro-psychology assessment.
“I did some memory tests and repeated words,” Rohan says. “My health is pretty good.”
“There are times when I have my dizzy spells. Apart from that, I am doing okay.”
Earlier this year, Rohan had a dizzy spell in the middle of the night at his apartment in Sydney. He knew what to do.
“It was about 4:30 in the morning and I had to go to the bathroom. I was feeling a bit light-headed and fell and scratched my arm.”
“Then I called the ambulance – the first time I’ve ever done that.”
“I put water on my face and lied down with my feet up until they came.”
Rohan lives with a flatmate and has learned to take care of his health.
“I would say for people with a disability to make sure they have their pills with them and to keep a daily record and keep note of anything they are concerned about.”
“It’s also important to do exercise.”
“I go down to Bicentennial Park, and walk around the park. There’s also a pool and a gym in my apartment complex, so I go for a swim sometimes.”
Rohan has had gout in the past and makes sure he drinks lots of water. He fills up four Soda Stream bottles every morning – two with sparkling water and two with still water – and makes sure he drinks all of them by the end of the day.
“I also do my daily stretches morning and afternoon,” he says.
Rohan sees his physiotherapist every six weeks and gets new stretches depending on how his body is feeling.
“My physio gives me a massage in places where I’m sore.”
Other regular health appointments in Rohan’s diary include the podiatrist, to take care of his feet, and the dentist. Sometimes, when he is on medication, he has blood tests to make sure there are no side effects.
In the past six months, Rohan has also been going to his local Men’s Shed, where he learns new skills and meeting locals with similar interests.
“Every second Thursday I go to Men’s Shed, and at the moment I’m building a shelf for my medals,” he says.
Getting involved in groups and activities, and staying connected with family and friends is good for mental health. Rohan likes to Facetime his sister Laura, brother-in-law Tom and niece and nephew, Matilda and Jasper, who live in San Diego.
He is also getting ready to go on a trip with his mum to Toowoomba for six days, where they’ll be meeting up with old friends.
“We’ll be staying with friends of ours that I’ve known since I was little,” Rohan says. “I’ll be staying with my friend Dan.”
• Have an annual health check-up with your doctor.
You and your GP can use the Comprehensive Health Assessment Program (CHAP) tool to carry out your check-up. It is a questionnaire that gives the doctor lots of information about your health.
• Book a regular check-up with your dentist.
• Take extra care of your body by seeing allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, podiatrists and occupational therapists.
• Look after your mental health by getting involved in groups and activities, and staying connected with family and friends.
• Keep a record of healthcare appointments, hospital visits, test results and any medication you’re taking. You might also like to include how you are feeling. You can do this in the Down Syndrome Health Record app.
• To make sure you know about your own health and healthy choices download the Down Syndrome Australia Good Health App to help you:
Download the full digital edition of Voice here.