Health Care is Self-Care, Too

Why telemedicine may just be the answer for busy moms.

When you think about self-care, you may think of things like taking a break from household duties in favor of a long, hot bath, reading a great book, or treating yourself to a shopping trip or meal out with your friends. These are great things to do for yourself (and certainly count as self-care), but there’s another, more rudimentary definition we may be forgetting. Self-care, at its most basic level, is about making sure you get the “care” that you need by identifying it for yourself.

It sounds simple, but it’s not something that women are often good at doing. We become so wrapped up in caring for others that our personal needs fall by the wayside. You’re so busy making sure all the kids get a bath every night that you suddenly realize it’s been a week since you’ve showered. When everyone in the family (including you) gets sick, guess who doesn’t get a day off to rest?

The thing is, when it comes to your health, the old airplane oxygen mask analogy is painfully true: You have to care for yourself if you want to care for others.

But a recent survey of mothers conducted by Doctor on Demand found that 75 percent of moms can’t carve out an hour of “me” time per day, and 63 percent feel guilty about taking the time to address their personal health. Many moms put off routine health care, especially mental health care, because they don’t want to commit the time and money they could otherwise spend on their families. The survey found that one in five mothers would not seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist, even if she felt she needed it, due to cost and time.

It makes sense. You don’t want to sit in a waiting room for an hour, plus however long your appointment takes, when you have a million other things on your to-do list. Doctors’ visits can be incredibly expensive in addition to being time-consuming. It’s a pretty off-putting combination.

Luckily, technology is making it easier than ever for everyone to have access to health care without the disadvantages that come with going to the doctor’s office or ER. Telemedicine has been on a steady rise of about 3.5 percent per year since 2014, with rapid expansion predicted over the next year.

Telemedicine providers, such as Doctor on Demand and Teledoc, are often able to give you the medical care you need without the in-person trip. Patients can video-chat with a board-certified doctor anytime, anywhere, and can get a prescription if needed. Telemedicine covers a wide range of general health issues, as well as specialty services, such as dermatology or mental health services. It makes going to the doctor as easy as Skyping your grandma, so you’ve really got no excuse not to go.

The best part? The rise in telemedicine has led to many private insurers and Medicare alike accepting these services as part of their coverage. In fact, a “trip” to the teledoctor often costs much less than an in-office visit — and can save you an unnecessary (and costly) trip to the ER. Many hospitals now include telemedicine as a part of their practices, so you may already have access to telemedicine and not even know it.

Instead of being something you dread, taking some time for your personal health care can be a quick and easy task, and it won’t break the bank. Hopefully, as the popularity of telemedicine continues to rise, so will the number of women who take their self-care seriously.