Healthy Aging Takes Preventive Care
Healthy Aging Takes Preventive Care
 

When you get sick, you go to the doctor to get better. But do you ever go to the doctor when you aren’t sick? If the answer is no, it’s time to rethink your healthy aging strategy and schedule a doctor’s visit with the goal of staying healthy.

Preventive elder care involves regular exams, check-ups, and screening tests to get an update on your health. Recent research shows that older adults who live in areas with high concentrations of primary care doctors are less likely than those in areas with fewer doctors to be hospitalized for illnesses such as asthma and diabetes. If there are any warning signs of disease, regular preventive care will spot them early, which means earlier treatment and fewer complications. And while more regular appointments may cost you in the short term, they’ll save you time, worry, and money down the road. Plus, you’ll feel better and enjoy life longer.

Preventive Elder-Care Screenings

Here is a list of preventive elder care exams and tests that promote healthy aging:

  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Your annual exam. Your family doctor can check your weight, measure your body mass index (BMI), talk about any health problems or symptoms you’ve been experiencing, and order blood tests and any other screenings you need.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Blood pressure test. Blood pressure will be checked during your annual visit with your family doctor, possibly more often if you have high blood pressure.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Breast cancer. Women should be screened for breast cancer through regular breast examinations, an annual mammogram, and possibly a breast ultrasound – a sophisticated imaging test.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Cervical cancer. Regular pap smears for women should continue into your senior years, with the frequency determined by the results. You may be able to stop pap smears after age 65, again depending on what your doctor thinks is best.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Cholesterol screening. This is a blood test to measure cholesterol levels in the blood. Your physician will run this test periodically depending on your risk factors.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer screening starts at age 50 (earlier if you are at an increased risk due to a family history of colon cancer). Your doctor will determine how often this screening needs to be repeated, based on your results.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Diabetes screening. This blood sugar test is generally done at least every three years.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Osteoporosis. The U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends bone density screening for all patients over the age of 65, and from age 60 if you’re at an increased risk. Some of these risks include low body weight, non-traumatic fracture, or taking high-risk prescription medications.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Prostate cancer. Men should talk to their doctors about the right screening schedule for this disease if you are in a high-risk group.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Thyroid function. Thyroid function screening, a test for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), is recommended in your senior years.

Anyone who has risk factors for certain health conditions, like specific cancers or tuberculosis, may need additional screening tests.

Elder-Care Health Strategies

In addition to health screenings, there are proactive steps you can take to improve your chances of aging well, including developing a strategy to maintain your health:

  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Work closely with your family doctor to find out how to stay healthy, prevent health problems, and catch illness early.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Discuss lifestyle changes you can make, such as eating better, quitting smoking, and starting (or maintaining) an exercise routine.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>If you don’t have a complete record of your family medical history and the illnesses close relatives have, start putting one together.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Keep a list of all of your immunizations and ask your primary care physician what shots would be good for you to have.
  • http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/css/bullet_green.gif); background-attachment: scroll; background-color: transparent; padding-left: 8px; margin-bottom: 10px; overflow: hidden; background-position: 0px 0.7em; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>Know the risk factors for common diseases and your individual risk.

Staying healthy is a collaborative effort between you and your doctor, but it starts with you and your

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