For seniors (those 65+), being proactive about health tests, diet, and fitness are more important than at any other time in life. As the body grows older, there are more chances for things to shut down, stop working correctly, or possibly contract diseases. For these reasons, testing becomes even more important with age. Here are all the most common and necessary tests that seniors should take to ensure they are on top of their health.
Important Health Tests For Seniors
A colonoscopy is an important test in which the doctor analyzes the content and composition of your colon to see if there are any signs of cancer. The doctor uses a camera inserted into the colon to get an accurate picture. After the age of 50, it is recommended that you check your colon every ten years with a colonoscopy from your certified healthcare provider.
During the colonoscopy, the doctor may remove any abnormal tissue to perform a biopsy to determine the composition. Any growths or polyps can be excised promptly while the lining of the bowels is all carefully examined.
Oral health is an often overlooked component of overall physical health. And the importance of getting regular check ups increases as you get older. If you are a senior, you could also be taking a number of medications that could have a negative effect on your oral health. Medications including antidepressants, antihistamines, and diuretics all could be wearing down your oral health.
It’s important to get regular (twice yearly) clean-ups, and during this time it’s generally accepted to request a periodontal exam from your dentist. To do this, your dentist will give your jaw an x-ray and inspect your mouth, throat, gums, and teeth for any abnormalities or red flags for health complications.
Blood Pressure Check-Up
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64 - 69% of men and women over the age of 64 have what is deemed high blood pressure. More than 360,000 deaths occur every year in the United States with high blood pressure being a primary contributing factor. For seniors, controlling high blood pressure is extremely important. Among the middle aged, high blood pressure, called hypertension, can boost risk of dementia later on in life. However, recent studies have shown that for the very elderly, having a high blood pressure could actually help promote blood flow to oxygenate the brain correctly. There is also evidence linking high blood pressure to reduced frailty. Either way, seniors at risk for hypertension face the dangers of associated weaknesses such as predisposition to stroke or heart attack. That’s why it is essential for seniors to schedule regular blood pressure tests annually.
Once again, vaccinations are vital at every age, and for seniors are vital to preventing disease. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that people of all ages get a flu shot every year. For those over 65 years of age, you should ask your clinical provider for a vaccine known as a pneumococcal vaccination, which can protect against pneumonia and other infections. Vaccinations for the elderly is integral because they may not have been vaccinated in their youth, or they could be missing necessary vaccinations. Likewise, seniors are just more susceptible to disease and serious disease related physical impairments. Some vaccinations to always stay current on include:
Age increases the risk for contracting an eye problem such as cataracts or glaucoma, along with decreasing eye strength. The AAO, or American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends getting a baseline eye disease screening at the age of 40, because this is the time when the earliest signs of vision problems typically occur. Depending on this meeting, your ophthalmologist should recommend how often you need to come in for continued screenings. The AAO expects the number of people diagnosed with primary open-angle glaucoma, a mild to severe eye disease, to increase to over 3.3 million by 2020. Early detection of this disease is key to prevent worsening of symptoms over time, including loss of vision.
Bone Density Scan
Seniors are at a high risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition of fragile bones with increased susceptibility for fracture. Bone density typically decreases with age, so monitoring the levels of bone density is key to preventing sudden serious impairments caused by falling. This way, preventative measures can be put in place to help seniors avoid falling. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, likelihood of osteoporosis for women was more than ten times prevalent in women 80 years or older compared to women aged 50 to 59. Check with your clinical provider about undergoing a bone density scan to measure bone mass. And to avoid falling, make sure to ingest plenty of calcium and Vitamin D. Both these sources of nutrition can improve your likelihood of recovering from a fall.
The most surefire way to prevent the outbreak of skin cancer is to follow tips to avoid cancer in seniors. This includes wearing protective clothing and sunscreen along with getting regular screenings. Getting your skin checked is the best way to catch anything early on. In the United States, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. You can perform skin checks by seeking out any abnormalities or changes in skin composition, such as spots, freckles, or moles. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends performing this self examination monthly. Alternately, you can ask your dermatologist about performing a full body clinical scan to be medically assured you haven’t missed anything.
The American Diabetes Association reports that in 2015, over 30 million Americans had diabetes, of which 7 million were undiagnosed. For seniors, 25.2% of those aged 65+ (or 12 million) had some form of diabetes, diagnosed or undiagnosed. Everyone should begin screenings at the age of 45 for this condition, which can range from minor to severe. Ask your clinical provider for a fasting blood sugar test, as well as an A1C blood test.
Thanks for reading this list on the most vital tests that seniors should have done. For best results, talk to your clinical care provider and see if they recommend utilizing any or all of the aforementioned tests. At Landmark Senior Living, we believe in building strong senior housing communities full of happy, healthy residents.