10 Medical Exams Seniors Shouldn’t Skip
Regular medical check-ups are beneficial for people of all ages, but are increasingly important as you get older. Some conditions are more prevalent in adults over a certain age, requiring more frequent tests and examinations. As you get older, consider incorporating the following into your regular check-up routine:
- Blood test
Blood tests can tell doctors a lot about your overall health. Common tests, such as a Complete Blood Count (CBC), can help diagnose conditions like anemia and bone marrow abnormalities. Medical professionals recommend getting a blood test every five years, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
- Cholesterol screening
Speaking of blood tests, cholesterol screenings fall under this category as well. These tests will show your HDL and LDL levels, distinguishing between “good” and “bad” cholesterol. These screenings inform doctors of potential cardiovascular risks and can help develop a proactive plan to reduce heart-related risks. You should test your cholesterol every 4-6 years, as a general rule.
- Colorectal exam
A colorectal exam is used to identify symptoms that could develop into colon cancer in the future. These are not diagnostic tests, but are important for adults, as most new cases of colon cancer are found in patients over the age of 50. If detected early, these symptoms can be treated relatively easily. Colorectal exams should happen every 10 years, or more frequently if any abnormal results are found in your initial screening.
- Dental or periodontal exam
A number of medications that are recommended for seniors and older adults can have an impact on oral health, and many systematic diseases have oral symptoms as well. This means a regular visit to the dentist is even more important as you age. Cleanings and exams should be scheduled twice a year.
- GFR test
Your kidneys are very important organs as they serve as the primary filtration system in your body. Receiving a GFR (glomerular filtration rate) test is to determine how well your kidneys are cleansing toxins and waste out of your body. Doctors can calculate GFR by measuring high creatinine in your blood. This test is recommended to be performed every 6 to 12 months.
- Hearing test
As people age, hearing becomes more difficult due to the changing structure in the ear. Most of the time, hearing loss is quite natural, but getting regular hearing tests can help maintain your quality of life. Audiograms can be performed any time, but should be done once every 2-3 years minimum.
- Kidney function test
Kidney function tests are used to detect the different stages of kidney disease. If you’re experiencing high blood pressure, bloody urine or excessive swelling of the hands and feet, it may be time to schedule a kidney exam. Without these symptoms, you should plan to check your kidney function every five years.
Doctors perform mammograms to detect early signs of breast cancer. If you are a female between the ages of 50 and 74, you should have a mammogram every year. Once you reach the age of 75, the frequency can be reduced.
- Skin check
As you age, your risk for skin cancer also increases due to years of exposure to UV rays. Skin exams with a dermatologist should be done every year for older adults, in addition to self-exams. If you notice a new mole or skin spot, contact your dermatologist.
- Vision test
Similar to hearing exams, annual vision tests can help ensure your quality of life as you age. Vision loss is a normal part of aging, but getting older also means an increased risk of eye diseases, such as glaucoma or cataracts. These exams can help spot signs of disease and lead to preventative treatment.
Getting older is a natural part of life that is made easier with the help of open communication with your doctors. In addition to regular check-ups and exams, be sure you are up-to-date on all of the major vaccinations, including pneumonia, sinusitis, meningitis and a yearly flu shot. Regular visits to your primary care doctor will help determine exactly which tests you should prioritize, based on your age and medical history.