Jennifer Scott from SpiritFinder.org shared that regular health checkups are important for people of all ages, but older adults should make getting the recommended health screenings a priority. Early detection is the key to successful management of many chronic diseases and can have substantial impacts on the odds of surviving many types of cancer. Even if you’re generally healthy and don’t rely on medications, make an appointment with your healthcare provider for a checkup and these important health screenings.
Important Health Screenings for Adults 50+
All adults age 50 and older should have a regular blood pressure screening. If you have high blood pressure or risk factors for high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend that you regularly screen your blood pressure at home or visit the office periodically to have your blood pressure screened by a nurse.
Beginning at age 50, both men and women should be screened for colorectal cancer. This is often done through a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or a colonoscopy every 10 years, although there are other screening methods. Talk to your doctor about your health history and determine the right screening method and frequency based on your personal risk profile.
Both men and women should also have diabetes screening and regular cholesterol profiles. Blood sugar testing is recommended at least every three years, while cholesterol screening is recommended every three years or more often.
Regular vision checkups and hearing tests are also recommended for adults, and it’s a good idea to periodically examine your skin for moles and spots that change in color, size, or texture, which may be an indication of skin cancer. While women have a higher risk of osteoporosis, both men and women may also opt for a bone density scan, which can pick up on signs of osteoporosis, at age 65 or sooner if at high risk.
Vital Health Tests for Older Men
Men age 50 and older should be screened for prostate cancer. This may be done with a PSA test (a blood test), although recent research has cast some doubt on the value of PSA testing as a screening factor. Discuss your options with your doctor to determine if PSA testing is right for you. Digital rectal exams are conducted during regular office visits and are generally considered the best screening method for detecting prostate cancer.
Men who have smoked in the past (or are current smokers) may opt for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening, conducted via ultrasound. This screening is recommended for men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes at any point in life.
Important Health Screenings for Older Women
Women over the age of 45 (an increase from the previous recommendation of 40 years old) should have a mammogram annually as well as a clinical breast exam. Additionally, women of any age should perform a breast self-exam monthly in order to detect lumps and other changes that may be a sign of breast cancer. If you have certain risk factors or a family history of breast cancer, your doctor may advise mammograms beginning at an earlier age.
Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should be screened for cervical cancer through a pap test every three to five years. A pap test is often accompanied by an HPV test. Both tests may identify pre-cancer as well as fully developed cancer in the early stages, increasing the survival rates through early detection.
Find Time for Preventative Health
This is by no means a comprehensive list of important health screenings. The sheer number of screening tests and preventative measures only further reinforces the importance of having regular checkups with a healthcare provider. Discussing your personal health history and risk factors with your provider enables your doctor to recommend the screenings that are most crucial for your health and well-being.
Be sure to eat healthy and exercise in between your health screenings. This is the best way to ensure you are helping yourself stay as healthy as possible. You don’t have to do strenuous workouts, even walking, water aerobics, practicing yoga, or using small dumbbells and doing light strength training, can help keep you fit.
One of the most common excuses for skipping health screenings is a lack of time to go to the doctor. While it’s often a valid excuse, making time for preventative health is one of the most critical things you can do for your well-being. Hire someone to clean your house so that you can spend a few hours at the doctor for a physical and other recommended health screenings. Take a day off from work. Do whatever you need to do to get it done. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
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