It is not a surprise to see health-related goals such as losing weight, exercising more, and eating healthier on the top of many New Year’s resolution lists. Taking care of one’s health also requires that all routine doctors’ appointments and screenings are completed.
According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), aging increases the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s/dementia, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. However, fewer than half of older adults 65+ are up to date on routine exams.
The following is a guideline for preventive care for older adults:
- Annual wellness visits. Have an annual exam with one’s primary care doctor to check blood pressure, run recommended blood labs to test blood sugar , cholesterol, sodium & potassium levels, etc. Additional follow-up visits with a primary care physician may also be suggested.
- Bring a list of all current prescriptions including over the counter medications and vitamins to each doctor visit(s). It is important that all providers are updated with the complete list of medications.
- Women beginning at age 65 should have bone density screenings unless family history and risk factors determine this be done at an earlier age. This test evaluates the strength of the bones and risk for osteoporosis. Therapies are available to slow bone loss and increase bone density and to minimize risk of falls and fractures.
- Anyone with a chronic health condition should see specialists as recommended.
- Stay up to date on all vaccinations that your healthcare provider(s) suggest.
- Schedule any cancer screenings needed based on age, risk factors, family history, date of last test (if applicable), and advice of physician(s).
- Regular vision and hearing screenings are important. Hearing impairment can directly impact cognitive function as shown in many studies. Vision loss can also affect quality of life, and the risk of cataracts and glaucoma increases with age.
- Stay healthy head to toe- schedule regular foot care when needed. Podiatrists treat heel pain (plantar fasciitis), foot complications from diabetes, ankle and foot arthritis, nerve problems, tendonitis, hammertoes, flat feet, nail disorders, bunions, warts, fungus, fractures, and sprains.
- Good Oral Health requires regular visits to the dentist. According to the CDC, over 68% of adults 65+ have gum disease. Other dental health issues include tooth decay and oral cancer.
- If you have difficulty getting to scheduled appointments because of caregiver responsibilities, lack of transportation or due to other barriers, check with the local senior center to be connected with resources that may be able to help you.
Preventive health care is a key component to staying healthy and avoiding hospitalization from an acute illness. However, if you are hospitalized and needing post-acute care, our National Health Care Associates’ affiliated skilled nursing centers strive to help individuals become a better, brighter, and stronger version of themselves through an interdisciplinary team approach to care. For more information visit, www.nhca.com.
Column is written by Laura Falt, director of business development in Connecticut. Laura welcomes the opportunity to be a resource to the community on services for older adults and is often featured in local publications.