You ask yourself “why should I see a doctor?” You’re healthy. You haven’t seen a doctor in years. You look after yourself and you are proud of your self-care. So, what’s wrong with this scenario?
While it is wonderful that you are so healthy, what happens if something unforeseen occurs and you suddenly pass away? If the cause of death is unnatural (e.g. accident or crime related) then the police will open a case. Your body will be taken to the nearest State Forensic Pathology Services mortuary for an autopsy to be performed. But what if there is no obvious cause of death and the police are not involved? Why is this a problem for your family and loved ones?
Who will sign the official Notice of Death (DHA1663)?
The reason is that you will need a medical practitioner to certify the cause of death. In the absence of an obvious cause of death and if you have not recently seen a doctor, there will be no medical practitioner to sign the official Notice of Death (DHA1663). This official form is needed for the death to be registered at the Department of Home Affairs and for burial or cremation to follow. Without a doctor’s certification, it will be necessary for your family to authorise a private post-mortem investigation to be done to establish the cause of death. This is an added trauma and expense for your grieving family to deal with.
How often should you see a doctor?
Rule of thumb: If you are over 60 years of age you should plan to see a doctor every 3 months for a check-up, even if you are in good health. Make sure your family knows who your doctor is. If you have an elderly parent, you should ensure that a doctor sees them regularly. If your parent is resident in a retirement village, check whether the facility has a doctor contracted to provide medical care to residents and whether the doctor has seen your parent regularly (at least every 3 months).
When the time comes, it will still be at your doctor’s discretion whether the necessary forms will be completed, but it sure will make it a lot easier if there is a history in your patient file. This is especially important if it is your wish is to be cremated.
Covid-19 is making things a little more difficult, with many staying away from doctors’ waiting rooms. However, this does not change the need to see a doctor regularly, even if by video consultation.
BE PREPARED. STAY HEALTHY. KEEP SAFE.