9 Routine Health Screenings for Seniors
April 26, 2023
It’s important to adhere to a medical test and screening schedule as you age. Here are routine health screenings you should plan for if you’re a senior.
1. Blood Pressure Test
Getting a yearly blood pressure test is essential because there are hidden dangers associated with high blood pressure. Living with unregulated high blood pressure increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The test is noninvasive and requires you to wear a blood pressure cuff around your upper arm while seated.
2. Lipid Blood Test
This test involves a blood sample to screen for high cholesterol and triglycerides. You should complete a lipid test every year if you’re 65 and older, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol. Other risk factors include obesity, diabetes, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and tobacco use.
3. Eye Exam
It’s recommended that you get a baseline eye exam at 40 if you’ve never visited an optometrist. Age-related vision loss can negatively affect your eye health and increase your risk of conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts. See your optometrist once a year if you wear glasses or contacts.
4. Hearing Evaluation
Hearing loss occurs naturally over time or results from injury, infection and exposure to loud sounds. About 25% of people 65 to 74 have hearing loss, and that percentage increases with age. Get your hearing tested every three years if you’re 50 or older. You’ll listen to different sounds and pitches to determine your degree of hearing loss.
5. Bone Density Scan
Men and women can lose bone mass, but osteoporosis is more common in women. The scan measures the strength of your bones and should be completed every two years. You may also require a height test as a loss of height could indicate osteoporosis progression.
6. Thyroid Hormone Screening
Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that regulates your metabolism. The screening involves taking a blood sample to determine if your thyroid is producing too much or not enough hormones to control your metabolic rate. You should have your thyroid tested once every five years.
7. Cancer Screenings
Prostate cancer: You should have your first prostate cancer screening around 50 years old. The screening is completed with a digital rectal exam or a blood test to check your prostate-specific antigen level.
Breast cancer: Schedule a yearly clinical breast exam and mammogram if you’re a woman who’s 55 and older, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer.
Cervical and vaginal cancers: Women older than 65 should have regular Pap smears to monitor for cervical and vaginal cancers. Getting routine pelvic exams also allows you to address pain and incontinence.
Colorectal cancer: Schedule a colonoscopy to screen for potentially cancerous polyps once every ten years after you turn 50.
8. Periodontal Exam
Visit your dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning. Your dentist will also check your gums, tongue and throat for any abnormalities and take X-rays to check the state of your jaw bones. Going to the dentist regularly can help you manage your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
9. Skin Exam
Sun damage can cause skin cancer but may take years to develop. Notes any moles that are asymmetrical or have different colors. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about if you have moles that are larger than a pencil eraser or have changed shape, size or color.