Here is a list of preventive elder care exams and tests that promote healthy aging:
The goal of having blood pressure tested is to identify hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure. High blood pressure has been referred to as the silent killer because it generally develops with out any symptoms. High blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. This is a simple, non-invasive screening test that should be done for persons of all ages at a minimum of every two years.
Cholesterol, a fatty substance that circulates in the blood, is actually a number of different but related compounds known as lipids (fats). At the proper level and in the right proportions these substances are a necessary part of normal metabolism and body functioning. However, elevated total cholesterol, low HDL, high LDL and high triglycerides alone or in combination with each other are proven risk factors for developing heart disease and strokes. The recommended frequency for having these levels checked is every five years for adults over 19 years of age.
Diabetes is a condition marked by elevated levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream. Diabetes left undetected or not well controlled can lead to many health problems including heart disease, kidney disease and peripheral artery disease to name a few. Screening for diabetes is done through a simple blood test to check for blood sugar level.
Colon Cancer Screening
Colon cancer is a common cancer and is treatable and often curable in the early stages. Since colon cancer incidence rises with age, the recommendation for screening starts at age 50 or earlier if a primary relative (parent, child, sibling) has had colon cancer. Types of screening include a test for fecal occult blood, sigmoidoscopy (looking at the lower portion of the colon with a scope), barium enema (an x-ray test) or colonoscopy (looking at the entire colon with a scope).
Vision screening can detect changes in near and far vision that may occur with age. In addition, glaucoma, an increase in pressure in the eye that can lead to vision problems can be tested on routine exams. Those at high risk for glaucoma are those who: are diabetic, have a family history of glaucoma, are African American and are over 50, are Hispanic and over 65.
Hearing loss is not common among younger adults but increases with age, beginning at about age 50. Screening entails listening to tones through a set of earphones at various frequencies (high pitched frequencies tend to diminish first).
Prostate Cancer Screening
Prostate cancer is a relatively common form of cancer in men and can be detected early and successfully treated. PSA is a blood test that screens for the presence of prostate cancer. A digital rectal exam is also used as a screening for prostate cancer.
Breast Cancer Screening
Breast cancer is the most common form of non-skin cancer in women and is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the US. Women who have their breast cancer detected at an early stage have the best chance of long-term survival. Starting at age 40 all women should have mammograms every one-to-two years along with a clinical breast exam. Women at high risk are those who have had a breast cancer, those with one or more primary relatives who have had breast cancer (sister, mother, daughter) and those who had a first baby after 30 or who have not had a baby.
Cervical Cancer Screening/Pelvic Exam
Cervical cancer is a relativity common cancer in women. The screening test for cervical cancer is a Pap smear. Women between the ages of 19-65 should have PAP tests done every one two three years depending on risk. Over the age of 65, if you have had normal PAP tests in the past, the exam only needs to be done at the discretion your healthcare provider.
Osteoporosis is a condition marked by thinning of the bones. While it can occur in men, it is much more prevalent in women and the risk goes up with age especially after menopause. People with osteoporosis are at high risk for fractures that can be very debilitating and painful. Osteoporosis is diagnosed through a bone density test. The recommendation for this test is at least once after age 65 or younger if at high risk.