People are living longer thanks to advances in technology and medicine. With it comes the prospect of healthy aging. Regular exercise, proper nutrition and avoiding harmful vices are part of this, but also regular health checks. From blood tests to thyroid function tests to the dreaded colonoscopy, maintaining health through frequent and varied examinations has become a necessity.
Why? When it comes to good health, information is the best tool we have. As life expectancy increases, so does the risk of developing chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and malignancy. In fact, about half of adults over 60 have at least one NCD and a third have at least two. These diseases can cause a significant reduction in quality of life and disability.
Perhaps the best approach to these diseases is prevention and early detection. How do we detect these? The process differs from person to person based on gender, age, and various other factors, but there are common testing standards. Here are some important screenings that are required as you age and recommended time frames.
For women: A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Experts advise women to have a check-up every two years from the age of 40. Those with a family history or genetic predisposition may choose to have early screening. A bone density scan is another test that is more specific for women. They are also done with X-rays and can determine bone health and risk for fractures and osteoporosis. From the age of 65, women should have a bone scan once or twice a year.
For men: Although monthly self-examinations for irregular moles are recommended for both sexes, men have a higher incidence of skin cancer than women. It is recommended to start looking for anomalies long before you “mature”, but the probability increases with age. Self-examination and examination by a dermatologist are very important for early detection. Next is a prostate exam for men. Although this examination may not be practical, it is strongly recommended that men have an annual checkup starting around the age of 55. Finally, men aged 65 to 75 years – especially smokers – are advised to have an ultrasound to check for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
70 years ago, only 8% of the world’s population was over the age of 60. By 2050, this population is expected to reach 21%. We anticipate medical innovations that can help prolong life even in this transition, as there is an added focus on healthy aging. Until then, we have medical standards like this review and others to guide us. Please note that the age groups listed in these rules are general in nature. Be sure to talk to your doctor, as everyone’s health is different and certain tests may be needed sooner or later.
For additional recommended screening guidelines for healthy aging and older adults, see our companion resource, by Senior Healthcare Direct.
This infographic was created by Senior Healthcare Direct, medicare part d prescription plans