It is important to be an active participant in your own health and wellness. Today seniors are living longer lives and have better access to more affordable care. Therefore, they should be following up with their doctors and receiving regular vaccinations, screenings and exams. Annual visits, vaccines and scans aid in the prevention of major illnesses, they help to recognize risk factors for disease, identify medical problems, and building the physician–patient relationship.
With aging, the immune system can get suppressed so annual vaccinations, such as the flu shot, are a must. For example, if an older adult gets the flu and as a result, gets dehydrated, it can be very serious. With the first sign of the flu, be sure to drink Pedialyte®, which helps to replace fluids, zinc, and electrolytes lost during illness and dehydration. Gatorade and smartwater® are also good alternatives to help to avoid electrolyte depletion.
With so many different strands of flu bugs coming into our country the best thing is to be proactive and get the flu shot.
A list of recommended vaccines for adults 60 years old or older are below:
- 1. Influenza
- 2. Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis
- 3. Varicella (Chickenpox)
- 4. Zoster (shingles)
- 5. Measles, Mumps, Rubella (if you were born in or before 1957)
- 6. Meningococcal
- 7. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
If you’ve traveled or plan to travel outside the United States, please consult your physician for other vaccines that might apply.
Common screenings for older adults
As you get older you run a higher risk for developing common conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. One of your best defenses against the development of these conditions is annual screenings to, at the very least; detect the early development of certain conditions. You may even find that your Medicare plans and/or insurance providers will reimburse you for some of these preventive screening tests.
Common screenings for seniors include:
- 1. Blood Pressure
- 2. Cholesterol
- 3. Diabetes
- 4. Colon Cancer
- 5. Vision
- 1. Hearing
- 2. Prostate Cancer (Male)
- 3. Breast Cancer (Female)
- 4. Cervical Cancer Screening/Pelvic Exam
- 5. Osteoporosis
The frequency of some of the screenings, such as diabetes, should depend on personal lifestyle factors and family history as risks can vary based on a number of factors (family history, overweight, age). To be sure about which screenings are right for you, talk to your physician or healthcare provider.
Scheduling your exams and screenings
To get the most out of your visit, here are a few things you can do ahead of time:
- 1. Find out about your family health history. This can help determine which screenings you should do and at what age.
- 2. Find out if you’re due for any screenings or annual exams. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor.
- 3. Be sure to have a list of your current medications, including both over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs.
- 4. Write down a list of questions ahead of time that you might have for your doctor. Prioritize them and be as specific as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be embarrassed.
- 5. Bring a list of habits or life changes, such as the use of assistive devices like canes, walkers or scooters
At the end of your visit, be sure your doctor talks with you about the results/findings and be sure that you understand them. Ask questions and schedule follow up appointments as necessary. It is just as beneficial that you understand your current health conditions.