Preventive Medicine in Your 60s
Wow, that’s a lot of candles on that birthday cake. Turning 60 is a momentous occasion. At this point in your life, you may have grandchildren, your career is likely entering its final stages and hopefully you’re able to step back and reflect on the journey so far.
It’s also time to make sure your body is ready for the rest of the ride. After all, you’re nowhere near done just yet.
Here are some medical tests you should be sure to have done as you turn 60 years old.
Blood Pressure Check
Millions of Americans have high blood pressure and don’t know it. As we get older, blood pressure very often rises, so it’s important to get it checked on a regular basis. If your blood pressure is normal, you should get it checked every two years. If it’s high, or you have other risk factors, you should get it checked more frequently.
Fasting Blood Sugar Test
A fasting blood sugar test determines the amount of glucose in your blood to determine whether you’re diabetic or prediabetic. You have to go without eating for at least eight hours. You should have this done every three years, unless you have other conditions or risk factors for diabetes, in which case you should have it more often.
During that blood sugar test, your doctor will also likely want to check your cholesterol levels. If it’s high, you can make lifestyle adjustments to bring it under control. High cholesterol is a major reason people have heart attacks and strokes.
As we get older, muscle is replaced by fat. Typically, life gets busier, it gets harder to squeeze in regular exercise and it takes more exercise to have an impact. When you’re overweight, it can contribute to a long list of different health issues. Your doctor will want to check your weight to make sure you aren’t gaining too much too fast.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
It’s recommended that you have this screening regularly from the age of 50 until you turn 75. You (hopefully) had a colonoscopy when you turned 50; now that ten years have gone by, it’s time to have this test again.
As we age, we become susceptible to ailments such as macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma, not to mention diminished eyesight. You should have your eyes checked annually.
This is about more than whether or not you have cavities. Gum disease, for instance, increases your risk of having a heart attack.
When you turn 60, it’s recommended that you get the shingles vaccine. You should also get a flu shot each year.
Check for Skin Cancer
It’s important to check any moles you may have to make sure they haven’t changed. The best approach is to see a dermatologist annually for a full screening.
Screening for Men
Prostate Cancer Screening
The key to winning the battle with prostate cancer is catching it early. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test can help to diagnose prostate cancer early. However, there is also a risk of false positives with the PSA test, so men should be forewarned.
Screenings for Women
Breast Exam and Mammogram
As we get older, breast cancer risk increases. That means that women should continue to have annual mammograms and a doctor’s breast exam every two years.
Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear
At the age of 60, it still makes sense for women to get a pelvic exam and a pap smear. The test can screen for sexually transmitted diseases, and also uncover precancerous conditions.