As you age, it is a good idea to see your primary care physician on an annual basis. He or she can ensure you stay current on all the screenings and wellness checks you need to be healthy.
“At each stage of life, there are different aspects of care to assess,” says Deborah D. Price, DO, FACOI, internal medicine physician, Saint Francis Medical Partner. “The need for focused screenings certainly increases the older you become.”
Some of those screenings include:
- Regular eye exams – “Even if your vision seems fine, you should still have an eye exam every year,” says Price. “Some age-related eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, have no early symptoms. By the time you notice something is wrong, the disease already is quite advanced.”
- Skin exams – Your doctor will look for skin problems before they can become cancerous.
- Colonoscopies – The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colon cancer have a colonoscopy beginning at age 50 and every 10 years thereafter. “Colonoscopies are not just about finding cancer early,” says Price. “A gastroenterologist can find and remove polyps during a colonoscopy, thereby preventing cancer before it can develop.”
- Mammograms – The American Cancer Society recommends a mammogram at least every two years for all women ages 55 and older.
- Bone density evaluations – Seniors are especially at risk for falls, which can lead to emergency department visits and hospital stays. While having healthy bones will not prevent a fall, it may prevent you from breaking a hip or other bone. Women older than 65 and men older than 70 should have regular bone density tests.
- Prostate exams – Talk to your doctor if a prostate exam is right for you.
- Regular health screenings – You and your primary care physician should be in regular communication about cholesterol, thyroid, blood sugar and vitamin D screenings. “As you age, parts of your body are not working as well as they once did,” says Price.
For information about receiving screenings at Saint Francis Healthcare System, call 573-331-3996.