Preventive care helps seniors stay healthy

Doctor visit

I love my grandma. She always gives me great advice because she is older and wiser. Like her favorite saying, “Calories don’t count on your birthday! Or on major holidays! Or on weekends!”

Thanks, grandma!

She also keeps telling me to go outside and do MORE—to play sand volleyball with my friends, to play ultimate Frisbee in the rain, to dive into the deep end of the pool—because someday my joints and bones won’t respond as well to such rapid movement and I’ll wish those days were here again.

Usually this conversation is followed with a litany of the medications she has to take and the doctor’s visits she has to make each year.

In light of all the advice my grandma gives me, I thought I’d repay the favor and share preventive care tips with all of you. First of all …

Preventive care is important. Preventive care is taking care of your body, getting important tests and screenings from your doctor, and taking simple steps to stay healthy. We’ve compiled the handy guide below just for you!

Print it out and take it in to your next doctor’s appointment. Most preventive care is covered by your insurance.

For more information, click on the links in the chart or check out the WPS Health Center!

Test/Screening Age Frequency Description
General Checkup All ages Annually Your doctor can conduct a physical at your regular checkup to learn more about your daily living habits, sleep patterns, mobility, and energy levels.

Improving bladder control: Bladder control problems can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Talk to your doctor about strategies for bladder training, such as following a schedule, practicing relaxation techniques and Kegel exercises, and limiting caffeine and alcohol.

Immunizations All ages Depends Shingles: This is a painful skin rash that can last two to four weeks and typically appears on one side of the face or body. Though other symptoms may happen, such as fever, headache, or upset stomach, the most common symptom is pain. The shingles vaccine, only needed ONCE in your lifetime, can reduce your chances for developing shingles by 50%!

Flu vaccine: The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every fall. The flu can lead to serious complications, such as hospitalization or even death. Annual flu shots are updated to protect against that season’s strain of the flu and boost your immune system against it.

Pneumonia vaccine: Most adults only need the pneumonia shot once in their lifetime. Some high-risk adults may need a booster shot every five years.

Women’s Health All ages Annually Pelvic exam: During a pelvic exam, your doctor can detect certain cancers in their early stages, infections, or other problems. This is a great preventive measure that you shouldn’t disregard as you get older.

Pap smear: A pap smear is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. Your doctor will determine the intervals for testing.

Cancer Screenings 40 years & older Annually Colorectal screening: Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in men and in women. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, after lung cancer. Doctors recommend testing begins after 50 years of age.

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA): (men only) PSA is a substance produced by the prostate gland. Elevated levels may indicate cancer or an enlarged prostate. This screening should be discussed with your doctor.

Mammograms: (women only) Doctors recommend women 40 and older have a screening mammogram done.  Your doctor will determine future screening intervals throughout your life. Age can be one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer, along with family history, genetic alterations, body weight, and more. Talk to your doctor regarding your family history and to determine if testing needs to be at an earlier age.

Heart Health All ages Talk to your doctor Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. Each year, more than 1 million people have a heart attack, and 500,000 people die of heart disease. High levels of bad cholesterol are a major contributor to heart disease. Hypertension (high blood pressure) can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body.

Talk to your doctor about ways to ensure early detection of heart disease.

Bone & Joint Management Depends Talk to your doctor Osteoporosis testing: (women over 50 years; men over 70 years) Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time, causing bones to become brittle and weak. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist, or spine. By the time a fracture occurs, the disease is in its advanced stages and damage is severe. Medications, dietary supplements, and weight-bearing exercise can help strengthen bones.

Rheumatoid arthritis management (RA): RA is an autoimmune disease. Your body attacks the lining of your joints and leads to inflammation that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. With a treatment plan from your doctor, pain and swelling get better and joint damage might slow down or stop.

Glaucoma Testing 40 years & older Annually Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that can lead to damage of the optic nerve. It is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States. There are four types of glaucoma:

Open-angle (chronic): The most common type of glaucoma, an increase in eye pressure occurs painlessly and slowly over time, pushing on the optic nerve.

Angle-closure (acute): Occurs when the exit of fluid is suddenly blocked. Causes quick, severe, and painful rise in eye pressure. This type is an emergency.

Congenital: Present at birth and caused by abnormal eye development.

Secondary: Caused by drugs such as corticosteroids or eye diseases such as uveitis, systemic diseases, or trauma.

Diabetes Management All ages Talk to your doctor Diabetes is a group of diseases where the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin is defective and causes high blood glucose levels.

Type 1: Usually diagnosed in children and young adults, this type means the body is unable to produce insulin.

Type 2: Either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Symptoms may include: unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue and irritability, and infections. It is also common for no symptoms to occur.

Talk to your doctor about the following screenings:

  • Cholesterol/LDL level screenings
  • Dilated eye exam
  • Kidney screening/disease monitoring
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 40 years & older Talk to your doctor COPD is a leading cause of illness and death worldwide. Most COPD is caused by long-term smoking and can be prevented by not smoking or quitting soon after you start.

COPD leads to damage in your airways that eventually interferes with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your lungs. Damage to your lungs can not be reversed. Talk to your doctor about frequent spirometry tests.

Alzheimer’s Disease 60 years & older Talk to your doctor Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, or loss of intellectual function, among older adults. It is not a normal part of aging but it is an irreversible type of dementia.

Warning signs of dementia include memory loss, confusion, struggling to complete familiar activities, trouble finding appropriate words, poor judgment when making decisions, and change in mood and personality.

Talk to your doctor as early as possible for diagnosis, treatment, and tips to cope with this disease.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-118572759-1');