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Enjoy Healthy Later Decades with These Important Screenings

couple in their 60s dancing with each other

What Health Screenings Should I Get at Age 60?

By Kris Roloff, Quality Care Coordinator

For many people, age 60 is a brave new world with plenty of social changes that make these later years as full of possibilities as some of the earliest ones.

With many people choosing to retire in this decade, it’s a period of relaxation and reflection that can be weighed down by preventable physical and mental health issues.

To help get the most out of these years and continue with a strong and healthy life, regular screenings that detect issues that may affect you at this age and beyond are crucial. Here are some screenings you should keep in mind to get the most out of these years.

Depression screening

Depression is common at any age and can be disabling. Unfortunately, despite years of research and publicity about depression, it often goes unnoticed. Screenings help. Unlike other medical screenings, you’ll only need to conduct a short questionnaire for this potentially life-saving test.

Blood pressure

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, has several negative health effects of which you should be aware. After age 50, you should have your blood pressure checked by your personal doctor every year. You may need to have it checked more often if your blood pressure is higher than normal, have other risk factors or a lifestyle that may predispose you to hypertension.

Stepping on the scales

Age 60 can be a significant one for our body and physical changes, specifically with weight gain. As we age, muscle is replaced by fat that is likely to be stored along the beltline. Due to a slower metabolism, it’s harder to burn calories as we age. These factors can make it harder to maintain a healthy weight. For this reason, checking your weight three to five times a week is beneficial for identifying any preventable health issues related to excess body fat.

Colon cancer screening

Starting at age 50, colon cancer screenings are recommended every single year through about 75. Since other factors can make you more at risk for colon cancer, you may need to be screened more frequently or earlier. Talk with your personal doctor to find out the best and most proactive screening schedule for you.

Learn more about colorectal screenings here.

Blood sugar test

Diabetes becomes an increasingly potent risk after age 60. In order to identify risk factors for Type 2 diabetes and implement preventative changes, it is important to get screened every three years at and after age 60.

Thyroid test (TSH)

The thyroid can be affected by several ailments with increasing likelihood as you age. Because recommendations on this screening vary, you should ask your personal doctor for guidance.

Prostate cancer screening

If you have a prostate, it needs to be examined for early detection of polyps or pre-cancer, especially between ages 55 and 69. Consult your personal doctor to learn more about your risk level and how often he or she recommends a screening.

Breast exam/mammogram

Breast cancer risk increases with age. A mammogram is recommended every one to two years starting between the ages of 40-50. Talk to your personal doctor about when you should begin regular mammograms, what kind of screening he or she recommends and how often you should have them.

>>> READ MORE: The Importance of Mammograms <<<

Pelvic exam and pap smear/HPV test

Pelvic exams don’t become less important at age 60. On the contrary, they can become even more necessary to support your overall health.

Similarly, a human papillomavirus (HPV) test, known colloquially as a pap smear, is also often overlooked. Both cervical cancer and vaginal cancer are a threat after age 60. Beyond simply cancer, however, a pelvic exam can detect a host of other conditions that may affect your health and quality of life, like incontinence. Pap smears are recommended every three years and an HPV test/combination of both every five years up to age 65. 

Aging past 65 years old, having several negative pap smears in a row or having had a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous reasons are all conditions for which your personal doctor may tell you that you no longer need a pap smear/HPV test. It is important to consult with her or him to be sure.

Learn More at WebMD

Sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases can also pose a risk at years 60 and beyond. If you have a history of Chlamydia or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or if you or your partner has had multiple sex partners, ask your personal doctor about recommended screenings. He or she may suggest screenings for STDs like gonorrhea and HIV.

Eye exam

Eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma are common with age. Screening can preserve and maximize your vision.  Ask your eye doctor how often you need to have your eyes checked. 

Hearing test

Between ages 65 and 74, 25% or more will suffer some form of hearing loss. That number goes up to 50% for those 75 or older. On the plus side, most hearing loss is treatable. If you feel yourself having any difficulty hearing, talk to your personal doctor about scheduling a hearing test.

Dental exam

You should already have regular dental checkups. As you age, however, these checkups can be potentially life-saving. Beyond simply making sure your teeth and mouth are in good order, dental exams can detect early signs of oral health problems and bone loss. Professional teeth cleaning is also important for preventing oral problems and should be done every six months to one year.

Skin exam

Experts at the American Academy of Dermatology recommend you have your skin examined every year.  Recommendations include doing a monthly mole self-exam and practicing sun safety to reduce your risk of damaging your skin and developing skin cancer.

Protect your bones

Humans lose one to two percent of bone density every year after age 50. After that, half of all women and a quarter of all men will break a bone due to low bone density.

The repercussions of osteoporosis can be devastating.  If you have osteoporosis and suffer a fracture, you can significantly increase your risk of permanent disability or death. This is especially true for hip fractures – which are among the most common in those with osteoporosis.

Ask your personal doctor to refer you for a bone density test. Women should have a bone density test at age 65. If a woman is at a higher risk, a screening test may need to be done at an earlier age. As with most screenings, talk to your doctor to learn what’s best for you.

Cholesterol screening

High cholesterol levels are a major reason why people have heart attacks and strokes. The good news, though, is that high cholesterol levels can be treated with diet and medications. Measuring your levels of total cholesterol, HDL "good" cholesterol and LDL "bad" cholesterol, is important to do regularly and.

Immunizations

Immunizations are a crucial part of staying healthy and preventing outbreaks of dangerous and infectious diseases. People older than age 65 should get a pneumococcal vaccine to protect against pneumonia. The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine for those over age 50 as well. All adults who can get the annual flu shot should get this immunization. A one-time diphtheria-tetanus booster that also has the pertussis vaccine (whooping cough) in it is recommended followed by diphtheria/tetanus booster every ten years, meaning you’ll need it at some point in your 60s.

Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for adults who live, work or travel in areas where periodic outbreaks of Hepatitis A occur. Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all adults at high risk for infection.

Ask your personal doctor for guidance on which immunizations are important for you.

Aneurysm

For men, ages 65 to 75 who have smoked in their lives, medical professionals recommend a one-time screening for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) via ultrasound.

Lung Cancer Screening

Health experts recommend an annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults age 55-80 who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Your best is ahead with preventative care and screenings

With retirement, turning 60 introduces a decade of new possibilities.

Minding these screenings will ensure you get the most out of these years.

As always, if you have any questions about health screenings, preventative care and getting the most of your 60s, contact us today.

>>> CONTACT US TODAY <<<


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