To be a healthy aging superstar, you should think of yourself as your own health advocate. Sometimes it is easy to forget the importance of checking in with your primary care provider for routine health maintenance, particularly if you are feeling well. However, the importance of a relationship with your primary care provider goes beyond just general screenings.
Get Routine Screenings
Prevention is a key pillar of healthy aging. By moving your body, eating well, sleeping, and engaging in fulfilling activities, you are actually doing a lot when it comes to preventing chronic disease. However, as we age, there are also formal screenings that are an important part of maintaining health and wellness. Consider talking to your healthcare provider about the following evaluations:
- Routine blood pressure and weight checks
- Routine screening for high cholesterol and diabetes with a blood test
- Universal one-time screening for HIV
- Screening for cervical cancer with a PAP smear
- Screening for testicular cancer with a physical exam
- Screening for prostate cancer with a physical exam or blood test
- Screening for colon cancer with a colonoscopy or other stool test
- Screening for breast cancer with a mammogram or other imaging study
- Screening for osteoporosis with a DEXA scan
- Screening for skin disease with a visit to a dermatologist
- Screening for eye disease with a visit to the eye doctor
- Screening for dental disease by keeping up with routine dental care
The above recommendations apply to most of the general population. For certain people who smoke cigarettes, a screening test with a CT scan of the lungs, or an ultrasound of the abdomen, may be considered as well.
Get Recommended Vaccinations
Another aspect of healthy aging is doing your part to avoid developing diseases that can threaten your longevity and quality of life. Many amazing advances in the fight against infectious diseases have been made through vaccination campaigns. It is crucial to make sure you are up to date with all of your recommended vaccinations. For aging adults, the following vaccines are particularly important:
- Vaccination against shingles (Herpes zoster); generally recommended at age 60
- Vaccination against pathogens that cause pneumonia; generally recommended at age 65
- Vaccination against the Influenza virus; recommended annually
- Vaccination against Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (TDAP); recommended every 10 years
See Your Doctor When You Are Not Sick
If you are able to foster a relationship with a healthcare provider that you can trust, then you can feel more confident in the fact that you have a partner on the road to longevity and healthy aging. Having a medical provider who is familiar with you and your health history, and can help you make decisions about your medical care, can be very beneficial if you do develop a medical condition in the future.
Follow up Early For Injuries or Other New Symptoms
If you start to develop a symptom that is different from your normal aches and pains, make sure to check in early about this with your healthcare provider. It is better to follow up early about something and learn that it is not an actionable medical problem than to wait and let a symptom fester, potentially leading to other symptoms and irreversible consequences. Early intervention can go a long way in the marathon of healthy aging.