Preventive care for older adults

Preventing health problems, that is, preventive care, becomes more important as we age.

As we age, the body goes through changes, so preventive health care becomes increasingly important to stay healthy. Preventing health problems (or identifying them early) can help you live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

How often should you get an annual checkup?

See your primary care provider (PCP) at least once a year. During your visit, share your questions or concerns with your PCP, such as questions about healthy eating, exercise, mental health, fall prevention, drugs and alcohol, and help quitting smoking.

Your annual PCP visit should also include these common annual tests and shots:

  • A physical wellness exam, including a blood test for cholesterol
  • A blood pressure test
  • A flu shot
  • A Pneumonia Vaccine Pneumonia can cause life-threatening complications, especially for older adults.┬áAsk your PCP for the most up-to-date recommendations.

At least every 10 years, starting at age 50, you should be screened for colorectal cancer (more often if you’re at higher-than-average risk).┬áThe most common screening test for this is a colonoscopy.

If you have┬ádiabetes┬á, in addition to standard preventive screenings, you’ll need additional tests to monitor your blood sugar level and other diabetes-related health concerns.

Are there additional preventive tests and screenings for older women?

If you’re a woman between the ages of 50 and 74, you should have a mammogram at least every 2 years or more often, depending on your risk.

After age 65, you should also have a bone density study.

How should you prepare for your annual checkup?

During your annual wellness exam, be prepared to discuss any concerns you have about your health, including:

  • Medications:┬áTalk to your doctor about all your medications, especially if:
    • you have side effects
    • You forget to take your medications frequently
    • You can’t pay for your medications
  • Depression:┬áDepression is a common cause of illness in adults.┬áTalk to your PCP if you feel sad or hopeless or have lost interest in things you used to enjoy.

There are many things you can do on your own to stay healthy as you age: