My father-in-law Joe doesn't have a primary care doctor. Or if he does, he hasn't been to see that doctor in years. It drives my husband and my brother-in-law crazy that Joe is in his early 70s and never goes to the doctor.
Actually, it's not true that he never goes to the doctor. I remember he had some issue with his ears a year or two ago and got treated in the emergency room. So he does go to doctors if he has a problem. But definitely doesn't engage in any primary care.
As the doctor in the family, I'm supposed to be the one to convince Joe to see a doctor. But actually, I'm sort of on Joe's side with this one.
As I said, Joe is in his early 70s and appears to be in good health. He doesn't smoke or drink. He has had his blood pressure checked, and it's normal. He eats well and is skinny as a rod. He probably walks about 5 or 6 miles every day, maybe more. He seems to have lots of energy.
Even if his cholesterol is a little high, would it really help him all that much to go on a statin that might have unpleasant side effects? If he has borderline diabetes, is that really such a big deal at his age when the negative effects take years to accumulate? I suppose he could get cancer screening, but he's probably at an age where it's not worth it to do that either. Prostate cancer is generally slow growing, and testing isn't recommended for men over 75. I guess he could have a colonoscopy, but again, he's getting to the age where anything they could do that would prevent cancer probably isn't worth it. And if he has colon cancer, he's probably screwed either way.
He feels good, lives a healthy lifestyle, and I figure if he prefers not to take any medications or find out about any terrible diagnoses he might have, I don't see anything wrong with that. I suspect healthcare is over utilized in the elderly anyway, so I actually really respect his decision not to go to a doctor.
What do you think? Should Joe go to his primary care doctor or should his sons leave him alone?