Your risk of developing certain health conditions increases in aging. That’s why it’s essential to get regular health screenings to catch any potential issues early and prevent them from developing into more serious problems.
If you’re turning 50 soon or have already reached this milestone, here are some important health screenings you should consider getting.
Medical Screenings You need At 50
The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests that individuals who are 65 years or older should have an eye examination every year, which involves dilating their eyes. This enables the physician to have a more detailed view of the retina and optic nerve, making it easier to identify any probable issues and intervene at an early stage.
An annual eye exam can also help to detect conditions of the eye common among older adults, such as cataracts, retinal tearing, and glaucoma.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, adults should undergo hearing tests by an audiologist at least once every 10 years. After the age of 50, the screening should be conducted every 3 years or more frequently if the individual has been exposed to known risk factors associated with hearing loss.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colorectal cancer is found to be the third most common cancer in both men and women, but it’s also one of the most preventable. Regular screening allows precancerous polyps to be detected and removed before they become cancerous. The American Cancer Society recommends getting a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50, although other screening options are available, such as fecal occult blood testing and sigmoidoscopy.
Breast Cancer Screening
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer. Women should get a mammogram every two years starting at age 50, although some organizations recommend starting earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer. Regular mammograms can help find breast cancer early when it’s most treatable.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men; the risk increases as you age. The American Cancer Society suggests that men discuss the benefits and downsides of prostate cancer screening with their doctor starting at age 50 or earlier if they are at higher risk.
Bone Density Test
As you age, your bones may become weaker and more prone to fractures. A bone density test can help detect osteoporosis, which causes bones to become brittle and fragile. Women should consider getting a bone density test starting at age 65 or earlier if they are at higher risk. Men should consider getting a bone density test starting at age 70.
Blood Pressure Screening
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is identified as a common condition that can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. You need to check your blood pressure at least once a year as you turn age 50 or earlier if you have risk factors, including a family history of high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes.
High cholesterol levels can heighten your risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. You should check your cholesterol levels every five years, starting at age 50 or earlier, if you have potential risk factors, including a family history of heart disease, obesity, or diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body processes glucose or sugar. It can cause serious health issues, including heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney damage. You should consider getting screened for diabetes starting at age 50 or earlier if you have risk factors, including obesity or a family history of diabetes.
Lung cancer screening is a procedure to identify lung cancer in individuals who are at a high risk of developing it, even though they are otherwise healthy. This screening is suggested for older adults who have a history of smoking and show no indications of lung cancer.
Skin Cancer Screening
According to a study from the American Journal of Managed Care, older age is linked with a higher risk of skin cancer. The study also stated that skin cancer treatment costs are highest in late-onset disease, and patients diagnosed later have lower survival rates, hence, early detection is very important.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you see a dermatologist once a year, or more often if you are at a higher risk of skin cancer, for a full-body, professional skin exam as part of a complete early detection strategy.
As you age, you will need a few extra vaccines to help you stay healthy, including:
- Flu shot – Folks 6 months of age and older should get one yearly.
- Shingles vaccines – This is recommended if you’re 50 or older.
- Tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine: have as one of your tetanus-diphtheria vaccines if you did not receive it as an adolescent
- Tetanus-diphtheria: have a booster (or Tdap) every 10 years
How Frequently Should You Have A Healthy Screening?
Regular checkups with your healthcare provider are important even if you don’t have any health problems. These visits can assist in preventing future health issues. Certain health screenings or seeing your provider at specific times may be necessary.
Screening tests may vary depending on your age, some should be performed by your physician at your annual wellness visit, and there are some that you should routinely perform yourself.
The US Preventive Services Task Force provides frequency guidelines of recommended screenings for older adults.
|Type Of Screening||Frequency Guidelines|
|Blood Pressure||At least once a year.|
Consult with your doctor if you need your blood pressure checked more often if:
-You have certain health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or if you are overweight.
-You have a close relative with high blood pressure
-You are Black
-Your blood pressure top number is from 120 to 129 mm Hg, or the bottom number is from 70 to 79 mm Hg
|Colorectal Cancer Screening||You should have a colorectal cancer screening on a regular basis until you are 75.|
You may need a colonoscopy more often if you have risk factors for colon cancer, including:
-A personal or family history of colorectal cancer
-A history of growths in your colon called adenomatous polyps
|Breast Cancer Screening||You should be screened for diabetes every 3 years.|
You may be tested more frequently if you have other risk factors, such as:
-A first degree relative with diabetes
-You are have obesity, high blood pressure, prediabetes, or a history of heart disease
|Prostate Cancer Screening||For men 70 or older, most recommendations are against screening.|
Prostate examinations are no longer routinely done on men with no symptoms.
|Bone Density Test||Women aged 65 and older are advised to undergo a bone density test. A repeat test is typically performed two years after the first test, but this may vary depending on any treatments being received.|
Routine bone density testing for men is not recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
|Cholesterol Screening||You should have a cholesterol screening at least every 5 years if your cholesterol level is normal.|
You should have repeat testing sooner if:
-Changes happens in your lifestyle (including weight gain and diet)
-You have high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other health conditions
|Diabetes Screening||You should have a diabetes screening every 3 years.|
You may be tested more often if you have other risk factors, such as:
-A first degree relative with diabetes
-You are overweight or have obesity, high blood pressure, prediabetes, or a history of heart disease
|Osteoporosis Screening||If you are age 50 to 70 and have risk factors for osteoporosis, such as;|
-Long-term steroid use
-Low body weight
-Heavy alcohol use
-Having a fracture after age 50A family history of hip fracture or osteoporosis
|Lung Screening||You should have an annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) if:|
-You are age 50 to 80 years AND
-You have a 20 pack-year smoking history AND
-You currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years
|Eye Exam||Have an eye exam every 1 to 2 years.|
|Hearing Test||Have your hearing tested if you have symptoms of hearing loss.|
Importance Of Health Screenings
Health screenings are essential as you age because they can detect early signs of health problems and help prevent serious health issues. Here are some factual answers from reliable sources that explain the importance of health screenings:
Early detection: Health screenings can detect diseases or conditions before symptoms occur, allowing for early detection and treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Screenings can help find diseases early when they may be easier to treat.”
Prevention: Health screenings can help prevent health problems from worsening. For example, getting a flu shot can prevent the flu, and regular blood pressure screenings can help prevent heart disease. The American Heart Association states, “Screening can help identify risk factors and early signs of heart disease, which allows for earlier treatment and prevention of heart attacks and strokes.”
Better outcomes: Regular health screenings can lead to better health outcomes. For example, early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer can improve survival rates. The American Cancer Society states, “Screening tests for colorectal cancer can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they become cancerous. The screening will also detect colorectal cancer early when it’s easiest to treat.”
Lower healthcare costs: Preventive health screenings can lead to lower healthcare costs in the long run by preventing or detecting health problems before they become more serious and expensive to treat. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states, “Prevention and early detection can save both lives and money. Health screenings can help detect diseases early when they are easier and less expensive.”
Cost and Insurance Coverage
Many healthcare plans are required to provide free preventative services such as vaccinations and screenings. This rule also applies to plans available through the Health Insurance Marketplace. However, these services are only free if they are provided by a healthcare professional within your plan’s network.
You may also checkout the preventive and screening services covered by Medicare here.
Regular health screenings are essential to maintaining good health as you age. By staying on top of these important health screenings, you can catch any potential health problems early and prevent them from becoming more serious. Talk to your doctor about which screenings are right for you based on your health history and risk factors.
Learn more about preserving your health as you age by visiting our Guide To Healthy Aging.