An Ounce of Prevention: Health Screenings for Seniors

Friday, May 22, 2015

Benjamin Franklin has been credited with the quote “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  This is never more true than in the golden years of our life.  While you may feel fine, it is crucial that  those over the age of 65 maintain an ongoing relationship with their primary care physician.  Regular health screenings can help you avoid major medical problems in the future. For example, a simple blood test can help your doctor detect high blood pressure and high cholesterol in the early stages before they become even bigger health issues.
Below is a list of health screenings seniors over the age of 65 should discuss with their primary care physician.

  • Blood pressure screening. These should be done at least every year. If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or other certain conditions, you may need to complete a blood pressure screening more often.
  •  Cholesterol screening and heart disease prevention.  You should have your cholesterol level checked every 3-5 years. If you have diabetes, heart disease, heart problems, or have a family history of these health issues, you may need to be checked more often.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening. Men and women 65 – 75 who have a history of smoking should have an ultrasound done to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysms.
  • Eye exam. Have an eye exam completed at least every 2 years to screen for glaucoma and eye problems related to diabetes.
  • Osteoporosis screening – Osteoporosis, the decrease in bone mass and density, leaves seniors at increasing risk of bone fractures. Women are even more susceptible to the disease. Seniors over the age of 64 should have a bone density test completed.
  • Colon cancer screening. One of the following tests should be completed:
  • An annual stool test
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years along with a stool occult blood test.
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Prostate Cancer screening. All men should consult their health care provider about prostate cancer screenings. A PSA test should also be done during the screening.
  • Mammograms. All women up to the age of 75 should have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years, depending on their risk factors for breast cancer.
  • Lung Cancer Screening. A screening for lung cancer is recommended for adults who currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years
In addition, Medicare recommends each beneficiary to have an Annual Wellness Visit with their primary care physician. This consultation is different from a yearly physical – it is more of a consultation. This is a Medicare benefit that does not carry any additional cost.  Medicare strongly encourages each person to have this consultation completed EACH year in the interest of prevention. With your physician you, will also develop a plan with your doctor to help you stay healthy. Call your primary care physician to schedule an Annual Wellness Visit today.