Home > Blog > 10 Medical Tests Every Senior Should Get

10 Medical Tests Every Senior Should Get

When it comes to your wellbeing, routine medical check-ups are essential for people of any age, but they’re especially important for healthy aging, especially during a global pandemic like COVID-19.

Medical professionals and essential workers are currently working to fight this disease from the front lines in defense of vulnerable populations, including seniors.

Once you reach a certain age, you are more susceptible to specific illnesses and conditions. This means you’ll need to be more diligent with your regular examinations and tests. As you get older, incorporating the following exams into your regular healthcare routine can help prevent and manage any conditions you may be prone to:

1. Blood test

Your doctor likely already takes regular blood tests, as they can indicate a lot about your overall health. Tests such as a Complete Blood Count (CBC) can even help diagnose anemia and bone marrow abnormalities, which tend to show up later in life. Adults should get a blood test done every five years, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.

2. Cholesterol screening

Speaking of, a regular cholesterol screening also looks at your blood to determine certain health conditions. These exams show your HDL and LDL levels – your “good” and “bad” cholesterol. A cholesterol screening identifies potential cardiovascular risks and can help your doctor come up with a preventative treatment plan. As a general rule, you should receive a cholesterol screening every 4-6 years.

3. GFR test

Your kidneys are the primary filtration system in your body, and your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is tested to indicate how well your kidneys are cleansing toxins and waste out of your blood. This can help determine your risk for chronic kidney disease or indicate which stage you are in. Doctors calculate GFR by measuring your urine creatinine range. When the kidneys are damaged, this waste product builds up in the body and may cause high blood pressure or more serious conditions. You should have a GFR test performed every 6-12 months.

4. Dental or periodontal exam

There are a number of medications for older adults that have side effects that impact your oral health. There are a handful of systemic diseases that have oral symptoms as well. This means that as you age, it’s even more imperative that you stay on top of your visits to the dentist for cleanings and exams at least twice a year.

5. Bone density scan

As you age, your bone mass decreases naturally, so staying on top of your numbers can help prevent serious injuries down the road. For older adults, a small fall could turn into a critical injury. This is especially true if you have untreated conditions like osteoporosis. Women are more prone to this condition, but it can also develop in men. To prevent or manage osteoporosis, bone density scans are recommended regularly after 65.

6. Colorectal exam

The likelihood of developing certain cancers increases as you get older. Preventative tests, such as a colorectal exam, are used to identify signs or symptoms that may indicate colon cancer. While these tests do not result in a diagnosis, they are still important, as most new cases of colon cancer occur in people over the age of 50. If abnormalities are discovered early enough, your doctor may be able to treat your symptoms relatively easily. Schedule a colorectal exam every 10 years if no abnormal results are found, and more often if suggested by your doctor.

7. Mammogram

Breast cancer is another disease to look out for as you get older. It is more prevalent in women between the ages of 50 and 74, and can typically be spotted through mammogram results. A mammogram is a test used to detect early signs of breast cancer and should be scheduled annually. Once you reach 75, frequency can be reduced.

8. Skin check

Aging also increases your risk for skin cancer, due to years of exposure to UV rays from the sun. Schedule a skin exam with your dermatologist annually if you are an older adult to prevent and manage skin complications. Your doctor can also help you know what to look for when performing self-exams.

9. Hearing test

Some of our core functions, such as hearing, become more difficult as we age, due to the changing structure in the ear. Hearing loss is fairly normal, but having a regular hearing test can help prevent further damage and make your daily life more pleasant. Hearing loss can also contribute to dizziness and make one prone to falling at home. Audiograms should be performed every 2-3 years, but can be done any time if you experience discomfort or a change in your hearing.

10. Vision test

Much like hearing tests, annual vision exams can help maintain your quality of life as you get older. Vision loss can start early in life, so it’s perfectly normal to need prescription glasses, contact or corrective surgery. Getting older also increases your risk of eye diseases, such as glaucoma or cataracts, making regular eye exams important for your health. These tests can help detect early signs of disease and lead to preventative treatment.

Getting older is a natural part of life, and with the right preparation and awareness, you can live every day fully, vibrantly. Stay in communication with your doctor to understand which health tests you should prioritize, based on your age and medical history, and make sure you’re up-to-date on all of the major vaccinations. Keep a list of medications on your refrigerator so its handy in an emergency.

About The Author

Jenny Hart is a health and wellness writer with a passion for travel, cycling and books. Her focus is topics related to the affects of aging on health and she is interested in research that can help people age better. When she isn't writing or travelling, she's traversing NYC with her two dogs Poochie and Ramone.