To keep senior citizens healthy, happy, and safe, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends some simple medical tests. These are as effective for the people of India and elsewhere. Thus, you can consider getting these done when you visit your regular doctor. Of course, your doctor may recommend additional tests based on your own health profile.

• Blood pressure

Millions of people have high blood pressure and don’t know it. If you are among them, get your blood pressure checked by your doctor at least once a year. This will benefit your heart, arteries, brain, eyes, and kidneys.

• Weight

When you gain weight, muscle is replaced by fat as you get older. That fat then goes to your waist. Also, before because your body’s metabolism is slowing down, you don’t burn calories as well as you once did. Get alerted by any weight-gain.

• Rectal exam

A rectal exam and a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) must be taken once a year. This will tell of any masses or subtle bleeding that cannot be seen with the naked eye. It may also give clues to treatable problems in your colon (think colon cancer) or prostate for men along with other medical tests your doctor may recommend.

• Other cancer screening tests

One of several tests to look for colon cancer is colonoscopy. It should be done every 10 years beginning at age 50. Talk to your doctor to see what’s best for you.

• For women, a breast exam and mammogram

Because breast cancer risk increases with age, it’s especially important for you to get that annual mammogram and doctor’s breast exam. Starting at 40 or 50 years old, a mammogram is recommended every one to two years. Talk to your doctor about when you should begin regular mammograms.

• For women, a pelvic exam and Pap smear

Many women over 60 need to get regular pelvic exams and Pap smears. That’s because cervical cancer or vaginal cancer can strike older women. And only the pelvic exam can detect a host of other conditions that may affect your health and quality of life (for instance, need to frequently urinate). In fact, Pap smears are recommended every three years. This can be omitted if a woman is older than 65 and has had three negative Pap smears in a row or has had a total hysterectomy.

• Sight

Such eye diseases as macular degeneration, cataract and glaucoma become common with age. So get your eyes checked every two years at least until age 60 and annually after that. Screening can preserve and maximize your vision.

• Most of older people’s hearing problems are treatable. Therefore, a hearing test must be done at least once in three years.

• Bones
If you have osteoporosis and suffer a fracture – especially of the hip – you risk permanent disability or even death. So ask your doctor to for a bone density test especially if you are a woman aged over 65.

• Cholesterol

People suffer heart attacks and strokes if they have high cholesterol levels. However, through diet and medications, high cholesterol levels can be treated. Hence, regularly measuring your levels of total cholesterol – HDL “good” cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol – is important. An ‘advanced lipid test’ gives even more information on cardiovascular risk.

• Vaccinations

A pneumococcal vaccine is essential for people over 65 to protect against pneumonia. Likewise, an annual flu shot is necessary for anyone older than 50, and a tetanus booster recommended every 10 years along with a one-time tetanus vaccination that also has pertussis vaccine (whooping cough) in it.



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