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 Robert W. Dodson, MD, internal medicine physician at Cape Physician Associates. “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 Dodson. “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 regular colorectal cancer screening for people at average risk starting at age 45.” “Colonoscopies are not just about finding cancer early,” says Dodson. “A gastroenterologist can find and remove polyps during a colonoscopy, thereby preventing cancer before it can develop.
- Mammograms – The American Cancer Society recommends women ages 45 to 54 get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years or can continue yearly screening.
- 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 Dodson.
For information about receiving screenings at Saint Francis Healthcare System, call 573-331-5111.