As you age, your need for regular medical testing usually increases. Now is when you need to be proactive about your health and monitor changes in your body. As we grow older, our bodies unfortunately do not operate the way they used to. A lot of movements that we may have been able to do before might become harder to perform. These changes highlight the need for older adults to be even more vigilant about our physical health. Because our bodies (and the systems that make up our bodies) aren’t quite as spry and sprightly as before, even the smallest changes can cause pain, illness or injury. This is why it’s important to get a comprehensive check-up from a facility that has state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging equipment. This should be done at least once a year to check if there are any red flags that may need attending to. Below are a few things you may want to get checked for.
High Blood Pressure
One in every three adults has elevated blood pressure, which is known as hypertension. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 64 percent of men and 69 percent of women between the ages of 65 and 74 have high blood pressure. Hypertension is often called a “silent killer” because symptoms may not show up until it’s too late. It increases your risk for stroke or heart attack. This is why it’s essential to have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. Having high blood pressure is common among older populations. The heart and blood vessels become less efficient at distributing nutrient and oxygen-rich blood cells around your body due to high blood pressure. When left unchecked, this can lead to a host of different health issues such as arrhythmia, heart attack, and even stroke. It’s recommended that you get your blood pressure checked every year.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 75 million people are affected by osteoporosis in Japan, Europe, and the United States. Both women and men are at risk for this condition, however, women are affected more often. 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.As you grow old, your bones become less dense due to a number of reasons. Hormonal changes are one of the primary reasons why bones become weaker, aside from having an inactive lifestyle. Older women are more susceptible to osteoporosis, but regardless of your sex, you should ask your doctor for a bone density screening. Suffering a bone injury can be seriously debilitating or life-threatening the older you get.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests adults get a baseline screening at age 40. Your eye doctor will then decide when follow-ups are needed. This may mean annual vision screenings if you wear contacts or glasses, and every other year if you don’t. Age also increases the chances of eye diseases like glaucoma or cataracts and new or worsening vision problems. Cloudy or blurred vision becomes even more common with old age. Seeing clearly is even more important as you age, as your body cannot withstand heavy trauma if you were to stumble or fall. Ask your doctor how often you need to get checked for macular degeneration, cataracts, or even glaucoma. They may need to refer you to an ophthalmologist for further tests.
Prostate And Breast Cancer
Possible prostate cancer can be detected either by a digital rectal exam or by measuring prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in your blood. There is a debate about when screening should begin, and how often. The American Cancer Society suggests doctors discuss screening with people at age 50 who are at average risk for prostate cancer. They will also discuss screening with those aged 40 to 45 who are at high risk, have a family history of prostate cancer, or have an immediate relative that has died from the disease. Older people are more susceptible to cancer. Men aged 50 or older are more susceptible to prostate cancer, while women around the same age are more likely to develop breast cancer. The accumulation of exposure to toxins and other harmful factors is why older people are more at risk of getting cancer. While screening for cancer should ideally be done every one to two years, your doctor may have a different idea regarding the frequency of your screenings.
Colorectal Cancer Exam
A colonoscopy is a test where a doctor uses a camera to scan your colon for cancerous polyps. A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue. After the age of 50, you should get a colonoscopy every 10 years. And you should get them more frequently if polyps are found, or if you have a family history of colorectal cancer. A digital rectal exam can be performed to check for any masses in the anal canal. A digital rectal exam checks only the lower part of the rectum, whereas a colonoscopy scans the entire rectum. Colorectal cancer is highly treatable if caught early. However, many cases are not caught until they have progressed to advanced stages.
Having a weaker immune system means that your body becomes more susceptible to contracting diseases that may become life-threatening among older people. One of these is pneumonia. When visiting your doctor for your annual check-up, you may also want to request a vaccination against pneumonia. This is one among other communicable diseases that are easily preventable through vaccination.
Thyroid-stimulating Hormone Screening
Sometimes the thyroid, a gland in your neck that regulates your body’s metabolic rate, may not produce enough hormones. This may lead to sluggishness, weight gain, or achiness. In men, it may also cause problems such as erectile dysfunction. A simple blood test can check your level of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and determine if your thyroid is not functioning properly.