Article | October 2019

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Preventive Care

Take the lead.

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.

About preventive services

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.

Screenings and vaccinations

Your annual PCP visit should also include:

  • 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.

Screenings for 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.

Prepare for your annual wellness exam

During your annual 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 seniors by visiting Healthfinder.gov

Women smiling doing light arm workout