Senior Health (cont.)

What are some of the routine medical tests for seniors?

A wide range of screening and preventive measures are available and recommended for people over the age of 65. These guidelines follow the recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and are based on extensive clinical data.

The following lists some of the important preventive and screening measures for seniors.

  • Influenza vaccination
  • Pneumonia vaccination
  • Vaccination against shingles (60 and older; some doctors recommend starting at age 50)
  • Colon cancer screening for adults between ages 50 and 75 (younger starting age in high risk groups)
  • Breast cancer screening with yearly mammogram for females between 40 and 75 (younger starting age for high risk groups)
  • Prostate cancer screening with annual rectal exam and PSA (prostate sensitive antigen) in males above age 50
  • Osteoporosis screening with bone density scan in women above age of 65
  • Lipid disorder screening yearly for men above 35 and women above 45
  • Diabetes screening in people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, or previous high blood sugar levels with or without symptoms of diabetes
  • Blood pressure screening at least once a year
  • Smoking cessation counseling

Other screening tests may be recommended by doctors are:

  • vision and hearing exams
  • skin cancer screening
  • cardiac stress tests
  • thyroid function tests
  • mental status exam
  • peripheral vascular disease screening

It is worth noting that even though these are general health maintenance guidelines, primary care doctors may draft an individualized plan for each person based on their personal history.

Many of these tests are recommended to be performed periodically. As people get older, the benefits of detecting certain diseases may diminish, obviating the need for further screening. Accordingly, the patient's primary physician may help guide patients with their decisions regarding recommended health screening tests.

Sometimes the possible risks associated with certain tests may outweigh the potential benefits. Therefore, there are times when the right decision for an individual is to not have further testing for certain conditions.


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