Preventive Care for Seniors

Article | April 2020

Preventive Care for Seniors

Preventing health problems, or preventive care, becomes more important as you age.

Your body goes through changes as you age, so preventive health care becomes increasingly important to help you stay healthy. Preventing health problems—or identifying them early—can help you live a longer, healthier, and more satisfying life.

How often should you have an annual check-up?

See your Primary Care Provider (PCP) at least once a year. During your visit, ask your PCP about any health concerns or questions you have, for example, questions about healthy eating, exercise, mental health, preventing falls, drugs and alcohol, and help to quit smoking.

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

  • A physical wellness exam, including a blood test for cholesterol
  • Blood pressure screening
  • A flu shot
  • A pneumonia vaccine. Pneumonia can cause life-threatening complications, especially with older adults. Ask your PCP about 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 are at above-average risk). The most common test for this screening is a colonoscopy.

If you have diabetes, besides standard preventive screenings, you’ll need additional tests to monitor your blood sugar 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 scan.

How should you prepare for your annual check-up?

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

  • Medications: Talk to your doctor about all your medications, especially if you:
    • Experience side effects
    • Frequently forget to take your medication
    • Can’t afford your medication
  • Depression: Depression is a common cause of illness in adults. Talk to your PCP if you’re feeling sad, hopeless, or uninterested in things you used to enjoy.

There’s a lot you can do on your own to stay healthy as you age:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep your weight in a healthy range

More Information

Learn more about preventive health care for older adults by visiting My Healthfinder.

Women smiling doing light arm workout