As we get older, preventative health measures become increasingly important. Regular health checks should be part of your overall health and wellbeing regime.
The biggest benefit of regular health checks is the increased likelihood of catching diseases and conditions in their early stages which can drastically improve treatment outcomes.
It’s important once you’re over a certain age to have these checks at the recommended intervals to help stay on top of your health. The recommendations around the intervals below are for the general population and may differ for those with specific risk factors.
General health checks important for seniors
Those over 45 should have their cholesterol levels checked every five years.
People aged 50 to 74 should do a bowel cancer screening every two years.
People aged 65 years and older should have a hearing assessment every 12 months.
Those over 40 years and older should be assessed for Type 2 Diabetes every 3 years using the Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool. For seniors at high risk of Type 2 Diabetes, a fasting blood sugar test should be given every one to three years.
Eyes and vision
Yearly eye tests and checks by an optometrist or ophthalmologist are important to check for age-related deterioration and conditions such as glaucoma.
While there is no set schedule for skin examinations, it is recommended to have a skin check performed yearly. It’s important to also look for changes on your own skin and get any changes checked by your doctor.
Osteoporosis is often thought of as a women’s disease, but it is recommended that both women and men over 50 years of age with no history of fractures but have certain osteoporosis risk factors get a scan to measure their bone density. These risk factors include family history, smoking, recurrent falls, vitamin D deficiency and low levels of physical activity. Timing of future scans will depend on these scan results.
Health checks for women
Up until the age of 74 years, cervical cancer screening tests are recommended every five years. Those with increased cervical cancer risk may need more frequent testing.
For women aged 50 to 74, free mammograms are offered through BreastScreen Australia every two years. Those over 74 may continue to have free mammograms but should discuss this with their doctor. If you notice any changes in the look or feel of your breasts, during your self-checks, see your doctor.
Health checks for men
A prostate screening test called the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test is available for men aged 50 to 69. Men should discuss the risks and benefits of PSA testing with their doctor before deciding whether to have it. Those who decide to have PSA screening should be offered testing every two years.
There is currently no screening test for testicular cancer. All men should become familiar with the usual feel of their testicles and see a doctor if there’s any swelling or unusual lumps.
Seek your GPs advice on other preventative health strategies
As with all health issues, chatting about your health with your GP is a good first step. They will be able to give you advice on which screenings and checks you should have, and when. Your GP will also be able to recommend other preventative measures that will help you stay as healthy as possible as you get older.