Smiling nurse taking blood pressure of a smiling patient.

How Preventive Check-Ups Can Keep Aging Adults Healthy

A regular checkup is one of the most important things you can do to lead a longer, healthier life. This is especially true if you take advantage of screenings and other early detection options. At Masonicare, we believe preemptive care can help you avoid serious illnesses and help seniors enjoy optimal health and wellness. 

Our team has created a Preventive Care Checklist that will guide you to the different types of screenings available as we age.

Your Preventive Care Checklist:

Blood Pressure Screening

Taking your blood pressure takes less than five minutes, yet can save you from a heart attack or stroke. A simple blood pressure reading should be taken at least once per year; but if other medical conditions are present (like diabetes), your doctor may request more frequent checks. A normal reading would be any blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg and above 90/60 mm Hg in an adult.

Cholesterol Screening

A cholesterol blood test detects unhealthy fats in the bloodstream, which can increase the risk of heart disease. A healthy senior only needs to get this test done every five years, as long as levels remain under established thresholds and stable. The American Heart Association reports the maximum healthy level of LDL cholesterol is 129 mg of LDL, 60 mg of HDL and total blood cholesterol level is 200 per deciliter of blood. 

Diabetes Screening

Diabetes can be an insidious disease that causes all sorts of other health problems if left untreated. Seniors who are in good overall health and have no other risk factors only need a fasting glucose level taken every few years. Those who are overweight, smoke, eat poorly, or have a genetic disposition to diabetes should undergo an annual blood test to check their glucose levels.

Dental Exam

Annual dental exams are important at any age but especially as you grow older. During a routine dental exam, the dentist looks for problems with chewing, tasting, and swallowing. Seniors with should also see their dentists regularly since the gums and mouth can offer signs of other health-related problems.

Eye Screening

Many age-related eye diseases get worse slowly over time, and they may not cause any symptoms until the disease is in a late stage. Regular eye screening can help your eye doctor detect age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye problems before they cause vision loss.

Vaccines and Immunizations

Vaccines aren’t just for kids. Immunizations can prevent serious illnesses and infectious diseases in older adults too. The most common vaccine for the aging population is for influenza. The annual shot lowers the odds of hospitalization for pneumonia and flu by about 70 percent.

But the flu isn’t the only disease vaccines can protect you from. Here is a basic outline of the immunizations every senior adult should receive:

  • Pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, every five years

  • Tetanus-diphtheria booster, once every ten years

  • Shingles, a one-time shot at around age 60.  A new shingles shot (Shingrix) is now available which provides improved and prolonged protection.  

Other Important Screenings for Seniors

Depending on your health conditional and genetic factors, here are a few other health screenings to consider as you age:

  • Colon cancer screening

  • Hepatitis C test (Important for anyone born in 1945–1965.)

  • Bone density scan for women over the age of 65

  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

  • Prostate exam and accompanying blood test or men 

  • Mammogram

  • Pelvic exam (for women only)

Good health is the best gift you can give yourself. Scheduling your preventive health checkups early in the year allows you to get a jump start on scheduling any follow up appointments that may be required later on. Regular screenings and preventive care follow up appointments can help you feel better all year long. 

As a reminder, always consult your physician before scheduling your annual screenings.

Masonicare is the state’s largest provider of senior health care, senior living, and homecare.  To learn more, please contact the Masonicare HelpLine at 888-679-9997 or info@masonicare.org.