You must have heard of incredible situations like this one – an ordinary wellness checkup for an older adult reveals some problem. The doctor suggests a couple of more tests that surprisingly reveal a condition that needs to be promptly treated.
The patient and family are only thankful that the right checkup was prescribed without delay, since it saved a precious life and prevented months of treatment and hefty medical bills.
Our body is a complex masterpiece of machinery, with various dynamic parts working in harmony to perform essential functions. But just like machines do, our body also undergoes wear and tear, and sustain damage, often without warning.
It is essential that we monitor our health, and detect problems in their earliest stages.
There are ample benefits of performing regular checkups which include, timely detection, better treatment, and lesser costs. Let us look at some must-do checkups for seniors that can be scheduled right away with your family physician.
1. Blood Pressure
Elevated levels of blood pressure, also known as ‘hypertension’ can prove to be fatal, if not kept under check. Additionally, it may not show any symptoms in the earlier stages. Additionally, it may not show any symptoms in the earlier stages. Statistics reveal that one in every three adults in India has high blood pressure. It can also increase the risk of heart attack and cancer during later stages.
Blood pressure is not severely threatening if controlled with dietary changes and medication. However, the cause must be identified. It is thus recommended that you undergo a blood pressure check at least once a year.
2. Lipid Profile
Lipid profiling is one of the most important tests conducted to identify the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. High levels of lipids, cholesterol, and triglycerides may put you at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
If any of these lipids are revealed to be abnormally high, your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes and medication. Hence, it is advised that once a year, you should undergo a lipid profile test.
Older people are generally considered at risk due to the weakening of the immune system. Vaccines like the pneumococcal vaccine can help you safeguard against diseases like pneumonia along with a host of other conditions like sinusitis, meningitis, endocarditis, pericarditis, and ear infection. Anyone over the age of 65 must undergo necessary vaccinations.
Your doctor could also recommend a series of other vaccinations like tetanus boosters or vaccines for preventing shingles. If you have suffered from flu, or are chronically ill, you must also take a yearly flu shot to avoid getting infected.
4. Eye Examination
With increasing age, there is a decline in the strength of one’s vision. An eye examination will reveal if your vision has diminished or not. It can also help identify major eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and also helps you pick the right corrective lens to avoid the strain on your eyes.
5. Periodontal Tests
It is important that seniors keep teeth and gum in good health. Food intake and prescription drugs like antihistamines and diuretics may have an adverse effect on your teeth and gums. You must schedule an appointment every six months to check the health of your teeth, mouth, gums, and mouth. If delayed, it may cause the loss of your natural teeth, as well as lead to other complications.
6. Hearing Tests
There are many factors that can deteriorate your hearing capacity. An audiogram test once every 2-3 years can help you check your hearing capacity at various pitches, and intensity. The good news is that most cases of hearing loss can be cured or managed with expert medical help.
7. Thyroid Check
The thyroid gland situated near the neck influences your body’s metabolic rate. Any discrepancy in the functioning of the gland can lead to body aches, sluggishness, weight gain, etc. If the thyroid ceases to secrete hormones at the desired levels, it may also cause problems like erectile dysfunction in men.
Ask your doctors to prescribe a blood test which can help you check the level of Thyroid-stimulating Hormone (TSH), and help you rectify the same in case any irregularities are observed.
8. Bone Density Scan
A bone density scan reveals the bone mass, which is a good indicator of your bone strength. People over the age of 65 may experience acute pain in their joints more often than others. You should take this test to check for signs of osteoporosis as over 75 million people annually are affected with the same globally across countries like Japan, the US, and in Europe. Bone checkups can also help identify signs of other bone conditions like arthritis.
One of the most important tests which helps reveal the signs of abnormal tissue growth or polyps in your colon is colonoscopy. A digital rectal exam can be performed to check for abnormalities in the anal canal and signs of colorectal cancer.
However, it is essential that problems are identified in the early stages to avoid cancerous growth to proceed to advanced stages.
10. Skin Tests
Regular exposure to UV rays may put you at risk of skin cancer. It is reported that 0.5 - 2 cases of skin cancer occur per 1,00,000 people and more than 74% cases of melanoma occur in people of ages over 50. So, you must consult your doctor for any signs of abnormal moles, skin discoloration, or other symptoms.
11. Diabetes Test
There are an estimated 72.96 million people affected with diabetes in India, which has a much higher prevalence among the age group over 60. Diabetes can have dire consequences if not managed effectively. A simple fasting blood sugar test, or A1C blood test can help check for signs of diabetes.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in urban India, with around 25%-32% of all cancers being breast cancers across India. An annual mammogram test and breast examination can help you identify the signs of unnatural growth.
13. Pap Smear/Prostate Cancer Screening
When it comes to reproductive health, most women are at risk for cervical cancer, while men are vulnerable to prostate cancer. A pap smear test checks for cervical cancer, as well as issues like pelvic pain and incontinence. To check for prostate cancer, one can undergo a digital examination or by taking a blood test to reveal prostate-specific antigen in the blood.
Given the advancements in the field of medicine, diagnosis is almost as good as prevention when it comes to combating diseases. And when you are intentional about regular health checkups and staying healthy, you can stay ahead of challenges that life may throw at you.
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