The Importance of Regular Health Screening Tests for the Elderly

As an adult, it may not be a problem if we forget about a checkup. For older adults, however, it can mean the potential for missing the beginning signs of a serious health issue. Simply put, older adults need more medical care than younger adults do. Aging presents unique challenges for our health, causing frequent doctor’s visits and an increased need for care. In fact, nearly a quarter of visits to family physicians and 60% of hospital visits are from older adults.

What’s the best way to avoid racking up medical bills while getting the most out of your golden years? It’s easy: get a regular health assessment. This simple preventative health check up allows your doctor to detect any early signs of disease and help you to maintain your baseline level of health.

Keep reading to learn more about the importance of your yearly screening.

What should be included in my health screening?

Each year, older adults should undergo preventative screenings to ensure they are at their peak health. These include:

Physical health screenings:

  • Blood pressure. High blood pressure is often a precursor to serious health issues, including stroke, heart disease and more. At each doctor’s appointment, have your physician check your blood pressure and monitor for any alarming changes.
  • Eye exam. As you age, your vision typically worsens. The current guidelines say to get a baseline vision exam at age 40 and then continue to get yearly exams to determine if your vision is getting worse. If you’ve passed 40, it’s never too late to get a baseline exam!
  • Obesity. More than ⅓ of older adults aged 65+ are obese. If obesity is a problem for you, a doctor can help you to get your weight under control with diet and exercise plans.  

Vaccinations:

  • Flu. People who are over 65 are at a higher risk for complications from the flu, leading to potential hospital stays or death. Each year, get another dose of the flu vaccine to help keep yourself safe from dangerous influenza side effects.
  • Pneumococcal. Pneumococcal vaccines helps prevent developing pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases. While other age groups are vulnerable to these diseases, the highest risk is for older adults.
  • Shingles. Older adults are more likely to get shingles, presenting as a burning rash that can cause lifelong pain. At age 50, ask your doctor about receiving your shingles vaccine to prevent this painful condition.

Safety & mental health:

  • Depression. Seniors are at an increased risk for loneliness and depression due to isolation. Mention if you’ve felt increased feelings of sadness or other negative emotions, as you may need support via therapy or medications.
  • Fall risk. Are you wobbling when you walk? Do you need a cane or other support to walk? If so, your doctor may flag you as a fall risk, signaling to your healthcare providers that you should be better monitored for falls.
  • Dementia. If you or a loved one experiences severe memory loss, an inability to hold a conversation or begin to suddenly confusing confuse common names for items, it can be a sign of dementia. If you notice any of these warning signs, bring them up with your doctor as soon as possible.

What are the benefits of health screenings?

Health screenings can seem cumbersome to deal with each year, but they save you time and money while potentially adding years onto your life. Some of these benefits include:

  • Preventative care. Prevention is key to a long, healthy life. Yearly screenings allow you to discover diseases before they spread or worsen, allowing for early treatment and a greater likelihood of survival. Each year, you can discuss your health risks, and your doctor can screen for these conditions using assessments like routine blood tests. Preventative services also help you save money by catching and tending to health issues before they become expensive to treat.
  • Prescription review. Older adults usually have to take several medications to assist with chronic, long-term conditions and to offset some of the negative effects of aging. Each medication can have a different side effect, and some medications may not react well together. Each year during your health screening you should take some time to do a prescription review with your doctor. Go through each of your medications and discuss any issues you may have. Your doctor will be able to identify potential issues with your dosages and prescribe new medications if necessary.
  • Managing conditions. If you have a chronic condition, it can feel like an uphill battle to get the proper care. If you have concerns about treating your condition, discuss your options with your physician. They can provide you with ideas to better manage your health, including in-house care and assisted living facilities.

Are you looking for an assisted living facility that can help you to care for your health needs?

Contact Culpepper Place. We offer on-site medical staff, medication assistance and administration and wellness programs to enhance the health of our residents.