Many medical conditions and diseases for seniors can be quite serious if not detected, treated, or managed early. Exploring your preventative healthcare options, such as screenings and tests, for seniors can be the difference between living until you’re 65 or 95.
So, what kind of screenings and tests are we talking about? And do you have to get them every year?
Well, it depends on who you ask. Many medical associations’ recommendations have slight variations in age cut-offs or frequency but are generally pretty similar. Here are the most common or most recommended preventative healthcare screenings for seniors recommended by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
Preventative Screenings for Senior Women:
We naturally lose bone density as we age, which can lead to osteoporosis. Starting at age 65, any woman should receive a bone mineral density, regardless of their risk.
It is still recommended for women between the ages of 65 and 74 to get mammograms every two years. After that, consult with your doctor to see if they recommend future breast examinations.
For women who have had three negative pap smears in the past ten years, you’re in luck! You no longer have to get pelvic exams or pap smears after age 65. If you are immunocompromised, have a history of abnormal results, or are of certain ethnic descent, talk to your doctor about continuing cervical cancer screenings.
Preventative Screenings for Senior Men:
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Men ages 65-75 have a much higher risk than women of developing this condition in which the aorta of the heart starts to swell, possibly leading to a fatal aortic tear. Factors that will be checked include smoking history, obesity, family history, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Screenings for prostate cancer are only recommended for men under the age of 70. After that, it’s up to your doctor and you to decide to continue screenings.
Preventative Screenings for All Seniors:
Obesity, High Cholesterol, and High Blood Pressure
These common, yet serious conditions will be tested by your doctor to assess your cardiovascular health at all ages.
As one of the leading cancers and causes of death in America, everyone over age 50 should receive regular colorectal screenings until age 75. After that, screenings may continue depending on your doctor’s recommendation and your health risks.
If you are under age 70, doctors will check your blood sugar levels to determine whether or not you are diabetic, and may prescribe medication or lifestyle changes to manage the condition.
This eye disease, in which the optic nerve is damaged, leading to blindness, is more likely to be found in women over 65, but men are also at risk. Yearly or bi-annual visits with the eye doctor are recommended.
Vaccinations are not just for little kids; those over 65 should still receive a pneumococcal (pneumonia) immunization, especially if it has been more than five years since their last one.
Mental health, Cognitive health, and Substance use
Depression is common in seniors, particularly for those with serious medical conditions needing home healthcare, so your doctor may do a mental health screening.
Because of the increased risk of disease associated with drinking, smoking, and drug use, your doctor may ask you about your habits.
Your doctor may perform a series of cognitive tests to determine whether you are experiencing any cognitive decline, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
For Seniors At Increased Risk:
Lung Cancer & Tuberculosis
For current or former smokers (30 pack-years), lung cancer screening may be conducted. Former or current health professionals, the homeless, the immunocompromised, former or current prisoners, or those from high-risk areas may be tested for tuberculosis.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Hepatitis B & C, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and HIV)
If sexually active and at increased risk, it is recommended for seniors to have regular STD screenings. Doctors may consider your sexual history, sexuality, history of intravenous drug use, incarceration history, and immune system status to see if these kinds of screenings are recommended.
Visit Intermountain Health in Nevada For Peace of Mind
Seniors should take control of their health by receiving the recommended preventative screenings. For those on Medicare Advantage plans, most, if not all, of these screenings will be included in your health exam. Otherwise, schedule an appointment with one of our myGeneration physicians and be in charge of your health!