The yearly checkups you need as you age
As you hit your 50s and 60s, you begin to think about whether you’ve reached the top of your career or if you’ve saved enough for retirement.
Your health also becomes a concern, thanks to a handful of medical conditions, including loss of bone density and heart disease, which typically affect those later in life.
Dealing with age-related health issues can be challenging. But by keeping track of the tests, procedures, and doctor visits you should get each year, you’ll be better able to manage your care and stay in good health.
During this decade, you’ll want to make sure you're addressing the following health conditions or seeing your doctor for the following procedures:
- Colonoscopy. During this test, your doctor will insert a tube into your rectum that will show cancers or precancers. It’s not something many look forward to, but it’s effective in screening for colon cancer and other colon-related conditions.
In 2010, just over 50% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 65 had been tested. That’s three times the rate in 2000. For people 65 and older, that number grows to 64%.
- Vision and hearing tests. In addition to seeing more gray hair and wrinkles, you’ll likely notice small changes to your hearing and sight as you age. These include a gradual decline in your vision, sense of smell, and your ability to hear speech and changes in tone.
As a result, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says that adults 50 and over should be screened every three years. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people ages 40 to 64, with no risk factors or signs of eye disease, get a baseline screening to make sure their eyes are working properly.
- Mammogram. Women 55 and older, who are healthy and expected to live 10 years or longer, have the choice to either continue yearly screenings or switch to having their breasts checked every two years.
- Diabetes screening. People ages 40 to 70 who are overweight or obese should be tested for diabetes. Those with a blood pressure of 135/80 or higher who are found to have diabetes could also be a candidate for coronary heart disease and should be tested.
Those entering their 60s should be aware of several medical conditions.
- Poor mental health. Mental stress increases with age, so making regular check-ins with your doctor is a good idea for those in their 60s and up.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Everyone forgets things. But if you begin forgetting the name of your high school or a family member or you begin to have trouble with tasks that used to be a breeze, you should report them to your doctor. Your doctor may then decide to test you for Alzheimer’s, a progressive disease that destroys memory and other mental abilities.
- Heart health. Once you hit your 60s, it’s a good idea to get your heart checked. That’s because your heart works less efficiently as you age, and you may feel less energetic or have less endurance for regular activities as a result.
But there are more serious heart conditions that could happen during this decade. The risk of a heart attack grows. And, by age 60 to 79, an estimated 71% of women have some form of heart disease, a leading cause of death or disability. What’s more, both high blood pressure and high cholesterol can lead to heart attack or stroke. It’s essential to have both checked regularly.
- Pneumonia. The pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine is recommended for those age 65 and older, or for younger people who have risk factors.
As you enter your 50s and 60s, it’s important to keep track of the kinds of doctor visits, tests, or screenings that can help you with potential age-related health issues.
Understanding your preventive care benefits
Even if you're feeling fine, scheduling an appointment with your doctor for preventive care services is important.