Why Seniors Need An Annual Checkup
Having an annual checkup is something everyone needs to do, regardless of age. This makes it possible to monitor an individual’s general health and, if there are any health issues, ensure that any illness is detected and treated in a timely manner. And since seniors generally have more health concerns, it is definitely a must for them to have an annual check up to monitor their physical and mental health and well-being.
Here are a few common tests that senior adults are recommended to take on a regular basis. It is important to keep in mind that these are only recommendations. It is best to be checked by a primary care physician or specialist and undergo the tests based on their advice.
Along with aging comes greater chances for eye diseases, such as glaucoma, cataract, and vision problems. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends adults to get a baseline screening at the age of 40. From here, the eye doctor will decide whether the patient needs to visit annually for vision screenings or every other year.
Oral health is essential, especially as one ages. Certain medications may lead to negative effects on dental health, such as antihistamines, diuretics, and antidepressants. When one develops dental issues, these may eventually lead to loss of natural teeth. During yearly cleanings, the dentist needs to perform a periodontal exam and, through the x-ray of your jaw and inspection your mouth, teeth, gums, and throat, look for signs of problems.
Hearing loss is generally a natural part of getting old. Sometimes, this may be caused by an infection or other medical condition. Every two to three years, one needs to get an audiogram, to have their hearing checked at different pitches and intensity levels. Fortunately, most hearing loss can be treated. However, treatment options will depend on the cause and seriousness of the hearing loss.
Bone Density Scan
A bone density scan measures bone mass, which is a primary indicator of bone strength. Undergoing regular bone scans is recommended to people who are 65 years old and above, especially for women.
Based on statistics from the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 75 million men and women in Japan, Europe, and the United States are affected by osteoporosis. While women are observed to be most affected by this condition, facts show that both women and men are at risk.
Vitamin D Test
Vitamin D helps protect the bones and may also defend against heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. As one gets older, the body is not able to effectively synthesize vitamin D, which is why it is important to undergo a vitamin D test every year.
Lipids Blood Tests
Blood lipid testing is performed to determine if an individual has abnormally high or low concentrations of a specific lipid. Having a healthy level of cholesterol and triglyceride lowers the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
When cholesterol levels are extremely low, this may indicate that one has liver failure or inherited disorders of cholesterol production. If the test results show high levels of cholesterol and triglyceride, the elderly adult may need to improve their diet, change their lifestyle, or take certain medications.
The CDC recommends seniors to get a flu shot every year, especially for those who are chronically ill. It is also good to get a tetanus booster every ten years. Individuals who are over the age of 60 need to get vaccinated against shingles. For seniors 65 years old and above, a pneumococcal vaccine will protect against pneumonia and other infections. Pneumococcal disease may lead to a certain health issues, such as pneumonia, sinusitis, meningitis, endocarditis, pericarditis, and inner ear infections.
Blood Pressure Check
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is known to be a “silent killer”. This is because the symptoms of high blood pressure usually do not manifest until it is too late, increasing one’s risk for stroke or heart attack. This is why it is crucial for senior citizens to have their blood pressure checked at least once every year.
In the United States, one in three adults has high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 64% men and 69% of women who are aged between 65 and 74 have high blood pressure.
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone Screening
This is a simple blood test which can check one’s thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level and determine if their thyroid is not functioning properly.
The thyroid is a gland located in the neck which regulates the body’s metabolic rate. Sometimes, it may not produce enough hormones, resulting to sluggishness, weight gain, or body pains. In men, this condition may lead to other health issues, such as erectile dysfunction.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 5 million people are treated for skin cancer in the United States alone every year. The best way to catch it early is to get a full-body skin exam annually for new or suspicious moles.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million people had type 2 diabetes in 2012 in the United States alone. Beginning at age 45, it is advisable to get checked for diabetes on a yearly basis. This test is done with a fasting blood sugar test or a A1C blood test.
The American Cancer Society suggests women who are 45 to 54 years old to undergo a clinical breast exam and an annual screening mammogram, while women who are over 55 will need to have an exam every two years or every year. If one’s risk for breast cancer is high because of family history, their doctor may suggest an annual screening.
Beyond the age of 65, women may need to have a regular pelvic exam and Pap smear. Undergoing a pap smears will help detect cervical or vaginal cancer, while a pelvic exam helps with health issues, such as incontinence or pelvic pain. For women who no longer have a cervix, they may stop getting Pap smears.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Prostate cancer in men may be detected by performing a digital rectal exam or by measuring prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in the blood. The American Cancer Society recommends for doctors to discuss this screening with patients who are at least 50 years old and who are at average risk for prostate cancer, as well as men aged 40 to 45 who are at high risk, have a family history of prostate cancer, or have an immediate relative that has died from the disease.
Colorectal Cancer Exam
A colonoscopy is a test in which a doctor uses a camera to scan the colon for cancerous polyps – abnormal tissue growth. When a person reaches the age of 50, it is advisable to get a colonoscopy every ten years. If polyps are found during a colonoscopy, it is recommended to take this test more frequently. The same goes if a person has a family history of colorectal cancer.
As the old saying goes, “health is wealth!” So, if you want to enjoy the rest of your retirement years, it is best to invest in your health and make sure that you visit your doctor every year and undergo the tests that he will recommend.