10 Medical Tests Seniors Need to Take

If you are a senior, there are 10 key medical tests or examinations that you need to obtain, according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. The task force is an independent panel of primary care and preventative medicine experts.

Remember that the Affordable Care Act mandates consumer preventive care at no cost. As a result, over 10 years ago, Medicare began offering various free preventive-healthcare services to senior Americans.

This article discusses the 10 important tests or examinations that seniors need to take or obtain. These are:

  • Eye test
  • Hearing exam
  • Dental exam
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Diabetes screening
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Osteoporosis screening
  • Prostate cancer screening
  • Colon cancer screening
  • Skin exam

Eye Test

Eye health often declines gradually as people age. The fact is that these changes may take time to notice. In the end, poor eyesight can affect everything from your ability to drive, get around the house, and perform different tasks of daily living. In addition, seniors are at risk for eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma.

What most people are unaware of is the connection that appears to exist between eyesight problems and dementia. Recent research studies have found that up to 100,000 dementia cases in the United States could potentially have been prevented with improved eye care. Researchers found that about 1.8% of U.S. dementia cases were associated with visual impairment and projected that by 2050, that total would rise to around 250,000 cases.

According to a study published this year in JAMA Neurology, one of the top steps a person can take to reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia is to get vision problems corrected promptly. This includes obtaining regular eye exams. It also means using eyeglasses as needed and obtaining cataract surgery when diagnosed with this condition.

Hearing Exam

Hearing tests are also crucial. If you need a hearing aid, you need to get and use it. In the United States, hearing aids can now be purchased over the counter. As of the latter part of 2022, hearing aids in the United States cost just hundreds of dollars rather than the several thousand dollars that prescription device cost.

Researchers have also learned that if you have hearing loss, you are at a greater risk of developing dementia. A 2020 Lancet commission report listed hearing loss as one of the top risk factors for dementia. People with moderate hearing loss were twice as likely to experience cognitive decline. Individuals with severe hearing loss face five times the risk of dementia.

Dental Exam

Your teeth, gums, mouth, and throat must be checked by a dentist twice annually. Healthcare professionals consider gum health to be a good barometer of a person’s overall health and wellness. Keep in mind that gum disease increases the risk of a heart attack.

Blood Pressure Screening

High blood pressure is common in the United States. High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. Over 50 percent of adults in the United States have high blood pressure. Seniors need to be screened for high blood pressure.

Diabetes Screening

After age 65, men and women should regularly be screened for diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that a fasting blood sugar test be done at least once every three years to catch diabetes early and manage it to prevent it from becoming a life-threatening condition.

Breast Cancer Screening

Mayo Clinic recommends screening for breast cancer beginning at the age of 40. The Mayo Clinic recommends that women up to age 75 should get a mammogram every one to two years, depending on their risk factors. Risk factors suggesting the need for regular breast cancer screenings include:

  • Starting menstruation before age 12
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Dense breasts
  • Genetic mutations

After reaching the age of 75, senior women should discuss the need for continued breast-cancer screening with a doctor.

Osteoporosis Screening

As a person grows older, bones become thinner. This makes older individuals more susceptible to fractures or breaks. This particularly is the case regarding hip and spine fractures.

The recommendation is for all women older than 64 to get a bone-density scan at least once a year. Men over 70 should also consider getting screened for osteoporosis. This particularly is the case if the condition runs in the family.

Prostate Cancer Screening

Prostate cancer is considered a common disease among men. This particularly is the case for men over the age of 65. Doctors can check for prostate cancer with a physical examination and a blood test. Some signs of prostate cancer include:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood in the urine

Colon Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer is more common among seniors. The average age at diagnosis of colon cancer is 68 for men and 72 for women. If you experience changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, or bleeding, see a doctor promptly.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults aged 45 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. Types of screening include stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and CT colonography or virtual colonoscopy. Adults ages 76 to 85 should talk to their doctor about whether they should continue to get screened.

Skin Exam

The American Cancer Society recommends regular screening for skin cancer. Be sure to ask your doctor to check your skin if you have any unusual moles or skin changes or if you’re at high risk with a history of skin cancer. This includes a situation where you have close relatives with skin cancer and a weakened immune system.

Ideally, you have a primary care physician who can assist you in managing these different types of tests and examinations. Taking the proactive approaches described in this article enhances your odds of a healthier and longer life.