As we age and our bodies change, we need to be seen by our physicians on a regular basis. It’s important to visit the doctor even if you’re feeling well, as it allows your physician to see changes in your body and your health.
“Regardless of our age, we always need to be proactive with our health and one way to do that is to stay up-to-date on tests and screenings,” explained Dr. Michael Giacalone, Chief Medical Officer of Hamilton Community Health Network.
If you’re headed into your second half of life, take a look at some of the screenings Dr. Giacalone recommends for those of us who are a little older:
Blood Pressure: Do you know your numbers? The American Stroke Association recommends a blood pressure level below 120/80. Anything above either of those numbers is now considered pre-hypertension or hypertension.
Blood Tests: Make sure you know your cholesterol level and triglyceride numbers, as they help determine your overall cardiovascular health.
Colorectal Exam: If caught in the early stages, colorectal cancer is very treatable. Starting at age 50, colonoscopies should be scheduled every ten years, if you do not have history of polyps or colorectal cancer in your family. If you do have a history, talk with your doctor about how often you should be screened.
Vaccinations: “Shots” aren’t just for the young. Talk with your physician about which vaccines you need. Most seniors should be getting the flu and shingles vaccines, plus some may also need the Hepatitis B or Tdap vaccine.
Bone Density Scan: A bone density scan measures bone mass, which is a key indicator of bone strength. Regular bone scans are recommended after age 65, especially for women.
Depression: Aging can be a lonely and difficult process. Talk with your health care provider about your concerns, if you’re feeling confused, sad or frustrated. They’re here to help.
Diabetes: Screenings should begin at age 45 with a fasting blood sugar test or A1C blood test. According to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million Americans had type 2 diabetes in 2012.
Cervical Cancer/Pap Smear: Many women over age 65 may need a regular pelvic exam and Pap smear. Pap smears can detect cervical or vaginal cancer. A pelvic exam helps with health issues like incontinence or pelvic pain.
Breast Cancer: According to the American Cancer Society, women should have a clinical breast exam and mammogram beginning at 45. Women 55 and over should have an exam every two years or every year, if they choose.
“Screenings should be discussed with your doctor at all ages,” adds Dr. Giacalone. “Being proactive about your health is something that helps to improve your quality of life and can even expand it.” These screenings and tests are an important indicator of your overall health and help your doctor determine future treatment. The next time your doctor schedules you for a blood test or any type of test, be sure to follow through with it.
It’s important to visit the doctor even if you’re feeling well, as it allows your physician to see changes in your body and your health.