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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.