As your loved one progresses through old age, there are specific issues that you should be on the alert for. Different medical conditions become problematic at different ages. Here are a few of the more common tests to have done as your loved one ages.
Tests to have done after the age of 60
The 60s are arguably the first decade of old age. People in this decade are generally still in fairly good health and probably lead active, full lives. Nevertheless, there are some issues to be aware of and some conditions to be on the lookout for.
The first test is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure can be indicative of other problems. In addition, because people who suffer from high blood pressure rarely feel bad, this is a condition which can easily sneak up on an elderly person and do significant damage before it is caught.
In conjunction to regular blood pressure checks, make sure that your loved one is keeping an eye on his or her weight. It’s an unfortunate fact that as we age our metabolism changes, and it’s easy for an elderly person to put on health-damaging weight. A few pounds probably aren’t an issue, but significant weight gain can lead to all kinds of health issues.
Beginning at age 50–and definitely by age 60 if it’s not being done already–an elderly person should have regular screenings for colon cancer. There are three different tests for this, each with their own regular schedule, so make sure you keep on top of it. Although highly treatable if it’s caught early, colon cancer often goes undetected until it’s too late.
Men should regularly be screened for prostate cancer; women should be checked for breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer increases as a woman ages, so be sure not to neglect this one. Women should also still have pap smears done until their doctor says it’s all right to stop, as older women can and do still develop cervical cancer.
Beginning around the age of 65, it’s a good idea to start getting regular bone density scans. As we age our bones can lose density and become brittle, leading to a higher tendency to fracture. This is especially a danger for those who might suffer hip fractures. A hip fracture at an advanced age has a high likelihood of leading to permanent disability–or even, in some cases, death.
Cholesterol screenings should be a regular part of an elderly person’s health regimen. Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels are often undetected for lengthy amounts of time because people who have this condition still feel perfectly fine. Unfortunately, it’s not fine to have high cholesterol, as it can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other vascular issues.
Elderly people should regularly get their blood sugar checked. High blood sugar can be indicative of diabetes; left untreated, diabetes can result in serious health complications including the loss of limbs, damage to the organs, and even death.
Once someone hits age 60, he or she may want to consider having a thyroid hormone test every five years. Thyroid disease can result in hair loss, problems maintaining weight, fatigue, and even depression. Experts differ on whether this test should be performed regularly in those who do not demonstrate any symptoms of thyroid disease, so this is one that you should discuss with your elderly loved one’s healthcare provider.
Mole screenings are an important part of any elderly person’s health checkup. This may come as a surprise, given that the majority of most people’s exposure to the sun occurred prior to age eighteen, but remember that skin cancer can take decades to develop.
As elderly people pass 60 and begin to head into their twilight years, it is important to monitor for any issues that could develop. Doing this will help them live a happy, lengthy life.
Group Health Research Institute (website). Adult Well-Care Visits, Screenings, and Immunizations, Available at https://www.ghc.org/healthAndWellness/?item=%2fcommon%2fhealthAndWellness%2ftests%2frecommendedTests%2fadultTests.html. Last visited Nov. 2, 2015.
Webmd.com (website). Medical Tests for your 60s and Up. Available at http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/guide/milestone-medical-tests-60-up. Last visited October 28, 2015.