As the average life expectancy continues to increase, we must find ways as we get older to maintain a comfortable level of health, and prevent illness and disease. Routine medical exams are one of the most effective ways to achieve this, helping to catch serious health problems before they start, and to determine appropriate treatments and lifestyle adjustments to stay healthy. Generally, around the age of 60, maintaining a good level of health becomes more challenging and arduous. Prevention becomes paramount for seniors, as the majority of severe health issues become progressively worse, and once they reach a certain point, untreatable.
Therefore, consistent health tests and checkups are necessary to help prevent hospitalization, surgery, and contracting terminal illnesses.
Important Medical Tests for Seniors
There are an array of useful medical exams that older adults should undergo on a regular basis to get an assessment of health levels, and find out if lifestyle adjustments are needed to continue to live independently.
Some of the most important health tests seniors should consider, include:
- Vision and hearing tests
- Blood pressure checks
- Cholesterol screening
- Oral exams
- Bone density
- Blood glucose and weight checks
Vision & Hearing
These two senses deteriorate with age and are critical to maintain for older adults that want to continue to live an independent lifestyle.
It is generally around the age of 40 to 45 when our eyes begin to go through significant structural changes, as the internal lenses of our eyes become less flexible and less adaptable to adjust focus from near objects to far objects, and the other way around. This transformation is not threatening and can be typically handled with the use of corrective lenses. However, after the age of 60 risk levels go up for serious eye problems like glaucoma and macular degeneration. Both of these conditions can result in permanent vision loss if left untreated for too long.
Hearing also drops off with age, and most instances of hearing loss are readily treatable. Hearing is an important part of daily life and essential for social interaction. Many regular daily activities are impacted by hearing loss, and as soon as hearing starts to go, it is a good idea to get assessed as soon as possible.
Blood Pressure Exams
Blood pressure tests are another extremely important procedure for older adults. It is estimated that 1 in 3 adults in general have high blood pressure, and that proportion increases to 2 in 3 after the age of 65. High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, can indicate the presence of more serious problems and also contribute to the development of health issues like kidney problems, diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Blood pressure checks should be done once a year at the very least.
High cholesterol levels is another common aliment in older adults. High cholesterol can also contribute to higher risks for heart disease and stroke. Regular checks should be done to determine levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is known as the bad cholesterol because excess levels can cause plaque accumulation in arteries and blood vessels. HDL cholesterol is thought of as good cholesterol because it helps rid the body of excess LDL by washing it away to liver for break down and disposal.
Many people are not aware of the extreme importance of dental hygiene. Oral health is closely related, and often a good indicator of, overall health levels. Several systemic health problems have symptoms that manifest as oral health issues. Also, dental problems can contribute to a higher risk of infection, chronic inflammation, and even stroke.
Dental checkups and appointments should be made at least once or twice a year to keep teeth in good shape and gain a better assessment of overall health.
Osteoporosis is another significant health concern for a high number of seniors. This disease translates as “porous bones”, and involves the weakening and thinning of bones. This not only compromises stability and mobility, but also puts people at a greater risk of fractures and serious injury from falls.
Regular bone density scans should be done after the age of 65, as reduced bone density can also indicate vitamin D deficiency.
Blood Glucose and Weight
High blood sugar levels can present serious problems for the body, and can develop into type 2 diabetes. Obesity is also a common risk factor for diabetes, so older adults with weight issues should definitely have blood-glucose levels assessed. Type 2 diabetes is a difficult health condition and increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Diligent health checks are an excellent way for seniors to maintain an optimal level of health for as long as possible.