It’s time to resume medical exams and checks
Why you need it: Although your risk of cervical cancer decreases with age, your need for routine Pap tests doesn’t necessarily end with menopause. One in 125 women will develop cervical cancer – and more than 20 percent of cases are in women over 65. However, these cancers rarely occur in women who are vigilant to get tested. This is because the procedure, which involves collecting a sample of cervical cells from the cervix, can uncover precancerous changes to prevent cancer from growing. The HPV test, another screening tool, detects the presence of HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer.
Need a helping hand? Beyond the Pap test, a pelvic exam can assess other aspects of your gynecological health. Your ob-gyn will look for signs of ovarian cysts or early-stage endometrial cancer – and may also treat menopausal issues such as hot flashes or vagial dryness, as well as issues like a weak libido or urinary tract infections.
5. Skin cancer screening
When you need it: The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends annual professional skin exams, as well as monthly skin self-exams. The higher your risk of skin cancer, the more important regular skin checks are. The elderly are particularly vulnerable because a lifetime of sun exposure can dramatically increase your chances. Armed with a dermatoscope, magnifying glass and flashlight combination, a dermatologist will perform a head-to-toe exam, taking a closer look at suspicious spots that are difficult to see with the naked eye and, if necessary, removing one. piece of tissue to be biopsied.
Why you need it: Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting 1 in 5 Americans to 70 years. Experts estimate that 450,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, 10,000 of which are melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer. (Basal and squamous cell cancers, more common forms of skin cancer, are less fatal.) Melanoma can appear suddenly and spread quickly, so it’s important to catch it early. In fact, it can be life threatening in as little as six weeks. The estimated five-year survival rate for patients with melanoma detected early is approximately 99 percent; the survival rate drops to 66 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes. For this reason, it is essential to stay alert and contact your doctor if you notice any unusual changes in your skin. (Look for lesions that are asymmetrical, with jagged or jagged edges, multi-colored, larger than a pencil eraser in diameter or that change over time.)
Need a helping hand? Yes, home skin exams are important: about 44% of melanomas are discovered by doing self-exams. But a professional can add an extra layer of protection. While skin cancer usually appears on parts of the body exposed to UV rays, melanoma can appear in places that have not been exposed to the sun. A doctor will be able to identify areas that are difficult to see, such as your back, scalp, buttocks, and behind your ears.
6. Cholesterol test
When you need it: The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults 20 years of age or older have their cholesterol checked every four to six years, provided their risk remains low. People with cardiovascular disease, for example, may need to test their cholesterol more often. Those taking cholesterol-lowering statins also need follow-up tests of their lipid levels to monitor their response to the drug, usually a month or two after starting treatment.
Usually prescribed by a general practitioner during routine physical exams, the cholesterol test is a blood test that measures several different types of lipids, or fats, in your blood – among them, total cholesterol (the total amount of cholesterol in your blood). blood), low density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, and high density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol, which help to remove LDL cholesterol from your blood.
Why you need it: At least 48 percent of American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, according to the AHA, and heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. For men, the risk begins to increase around the age of 45, when one in 100 men develop signs of heart disease; at age 55, the risk has doubled and continues to increase. For women, the risk also increases with age, especially after menopause.
Advances in home monitoring systems, such as watches that measure heart rate and drugstore cholesterol tests, make it easier to keep track of your ticker’s health. But while these assessments are important tools for detecting high numbers – and potential heart problems down the road – in-person testing is still important. On the one hand, your numbers don’t tell the whole story: your doctor will also want to take your age, gender, family history, and risk factors (like smoking and diabetes) into account when determining treatments. possible.
Need a helping hand? A Cleveland Clinic survey conducted earlier this year found that 42% of Americans gained weight during the pandemic (25% gained over 20 pounds) and three-quarters said they felt more stressed from COVID- 19. What this means, note the doctors: At a time when fewer of us are being screened for heart disease or stroke, many of us may be at higher risk for these same conditions.
7. Eye examination
When you need it: The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that adults have a complete eye exam at age 40, when vision changes usually begin to appear. Those who have an eye disorder or a risk factor should see their eye doctor to find out how often to get checked. Those who have had cataract surgery, for example, need regular check-ups to monitor the health of your eyes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that adults with diabetes have a dilated eye exam annually, unless otherwise specified. Also, if you wear glasses or contact lenses, you should visit your eye doctor for a checkup every one to two years to make sure your vision has not changed before purchasing a new pair. People 65 and over should schedule a test every year or two.
During a routine exam, your eye doctor will usually check your sight and peripheral vision, then pull out a lighted pocket microscope (or slit lamp) to inspect the outer eye and structures in the front of the eye. (like the cornea and the lens). for signs of a cataract. To look further inward, eye drops will be used to dilate your pupils, which will make it easier to examine the back of the retina and the optic nerve.
Why you need it: According to the CDC, the leading causes of blindness and low vision in the United States are age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. It is important to diagnose them early when they are treatable or, in some cases, curable.
By age 65, more than 90% of people are estimated to have cataracts and half of those aged 75 to 85 have lost their sight due to cataracts, according to UCLA Health. The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy has increased dramatically over the past two decades, due to an increase in the disease. Of particular concern is glaucoma, which occurs when fluid pressure builds up inside the eye, potentially damaging the optic nerve. There are often no early symptoms, which is why 50% of people with glaucoma don’t know they have the disease. By age 40, about 1 in 200 people have glaucoma, rising to 1 in 8 at age 80.
Need a helping hand? Annual appointments with your ophthalmologist or optometrist are essential to maintaining your vision, of course, but their benefits go far beyond keeping your eyes in working order: a close inspection of the inner workings of your orbs can reveal a problem. host of systemic disorders – sometimes before that. are symptoms elsewhere. An example: heart disease. Eye exams can detect a number of cardiovascular conditions, such as blocked arteries, says Brian Stagg, MD, ophthalmologist and retina specialist at the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah. “Sometimes we can see small deposits of plaque inside the eye that have broken loose from the buildup on the carotid artery, which provides most of the blood supply to the brain.”
8. Hearing test
When you need it: Adults over 50 should have their hearing checked every three years, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Those who wear hearing aids may wish to be tested more often, as device adjustments may be required over time. Tests commonly performed by an audiologist: pure tonal audiometry (a series of sounds, at different pitches and volumes, sent to headphones, to determine hearing loss) and speech test (which measures your ability to understand speech in noisy environments ).
Why you need it: According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), about 1 in 3 people aged 65 to 74 have hearing loss. But presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) creeps in gradually, which means many may not realize there is a problem. Indeed, in a 2017 study published in the journal JAMA, which included 2,613 people aged 60 or older, researchers found that 42% of those who reported no hearing problems actually had a slight loss. hearing during the test.
Why you need it Research from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the NIA has found that even mild hearing loss can triple the risk of falling, with the risk increasing by 140% for every 10 more decibels of hearing loss. Why? Balance requires brain power, and people with hearing loss make more use of this gray matter for hearing, which means there are fewer mental resources left to help you stand. Additionally, hearing problems can wreak havoc on spatial awareness (translation: where our bodies are positioned in relation to people and objects around them).