As we get older, our bodies change. While the specifics of aging, like how and when, vary greatly based on genetic factors and lifestyle, one fact is undeniable: Changes do come.
This is why having regular health screenings is so important for adults over 65. When it comes to your health and overall wellness, information is power — and screenings can expose information you might miss. In fact, even if nothing turns out to be out of order, checkups are still important, as they create a baseline for your personal health. This helps doctors and other providers know what’s normal for you, so it’s easier to tell if your bodily functions change. By planning regular checkups with your doctor to test for various conditions and illnesses, you can take a proactive approach to stay in good health.
So, what screenings should you schedule? What are the recommended health screenings that can help you appreciate a longer, healthier life? To help answer these questions, here are some of the recommended screenings for aging adults:
Health Screenings Tips-
- Blood Pressure Check: High blood pressure — otherwise known as hypertension — is incredibly common for seniors. Statistics show that 64% of men and 69% of women between the ages of 65 and 74 experience high blood pressure. Given that it’s so common, you may think elevated blood pressure isn’t that serious. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Having high blood pressure can increase your risk for heart attack or stroke. If left undiscovered, it can cause death without a person even knowing something was wrong. With regular screenings, you can catch hypertension early and take steps to address it.
- Cholesterol Check: Regular blood test for lipids disclose your cholesterol and triglyceride levels — and whether lifestyle changes or medications may be needed to correct them. Similar to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides can increase your risks for a stroke or a heart attack, so keeping them at appropriate levels is crucial.
- Bone Density Scan: To recognize signs of fractures or other bone diseases early, get regular bone density scans — beginning at age 65 if you’re a woman, because you’re more inclined to experience a loss in bone density.
- Colonoscopy: Colorectal cancer is the third most common types of cancer for adults, so doctors recommend having your first screening at age 50 and then every five years until age 75.
- Mammogram: Even beyond the age of 65, women should continue to get mammograms every two years to help catch breast cancer or other breast-related health issues.
- Prostate Cancer Screening: Men who have an average risk of prostate cancer should being regular screenings at age 50; if they’re at a higher risk (e.g., have a family history of the illness), they should start screening earlier, between the ages of 40 and 45.
- Type 2 Diabetes Screening: Adults with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, a high body weight and/or a family history of diabetes should get a diabetes screening at least every three years.
- Hearing Check: A variety of conditions or infections can cause hearing loss, a common complaint for seniors. Get an audiogram every two to three years to make sure you catch any hearing issues early.
- Eye Exam: If you wear prescription contacts or glasses, you need yearly eye exams. However, even if you don’t wear contacts or glasses, it’s still worthwhile to visit the eye doctor every other year. If you get a baseline eye screening at age 40, it can provide something against which to measure age-related vision changes. Likewise, many seniors experience glaucoma, cataracts and/or other vision issues, which screenings can help determine.
- Dental Exam: Taking care of your teeth and oral health becomes even more important as you age, especially if you take any medications. Certain drugs can compromise the health of your teeth, such as antidepressants, diuretics and/or antihistamines. You’ll want to plan for twice-yearly cleanings and yearly exams with x-rays.
- Skin Check: In America, more than five million people undergo treatment for skin cancer every year. If you notice any new or strange moles, you should always get them checked out by a health professional. Likewise, a yearly checkup with a dermatologist can help screen for any warning signs of a skin disease.
- Vitamin D Test:
Vitamin D is a common deficiency and annual tests can be helpful to ensure you have appropriate levels. Vitamin D protects bone health and helps defend the body against a variety of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and certain kinds of cancer.
If you’re an aging adult looking to keep up with your health and stay in good shape, talk to your doctor about these important health screenings and set up appointments with practitioners who specialize in them. By staying on top of what’s going on in your body, you’ll be better able to catch problems in their early stages.
AUTHOR BIO: Robert W. Bache (aka “Medicare Bob”) is the founder and Chief of Sales for Senior Healthcare Direct, an AmeriLife company. As an independent insurance broker, Bache and his team provide unbiased assistance to current and soon-to-be Medicare beneficiaries — helping them navigate, compare and find the right Medicare plan options. Bache’s agency, Senior Healthcare Direct, works with 30-plus companies and has served tens of thousands of clients in more than 40 states.