Grow Healthy at Every Age with Recommended Health Screenings for Seniors

March 18, 2021

Thanks in large part to improved medical care and changes in how most of us work, people are living longer. Someone born today is expected to live until they’re 77.8 years old.

How well you age depends largely on how well you live. A big part of that includes getting regular preventive health screenings for general physical health, cancer, and mental capacity.

 No matter how old you are, AltaMed can help you grow healthy with caring, attentive service and age-appropriate care. Read on to learn about the screenings and routine visits that are recommended for seniors. 

Hands senior screenings

Physical Screenings

Screenings can help you stay on top of chronic illnesses: if you do have a condition, it’s best to catch it early as treatment might not need to be as aggressive or invasive, and costs could be less. 

Recommended physical screenings include:

  • Blood pressure — Almost half of all adults have high blood pressure, so it’s important to have yours checked at least once a year (or as often as your doctor recommends).
  • Cholesterol — Many people are able to reduce their cholesterol with a healthy diet and exercise, but sometimes medication is needed. 
  • Obesity — Being obese is hard on the heart, liver, and joints and puts you at risk for serious conditions.
  • Blood glucose and Type 2 Diabetes — Medicare covers screenings in people with one or more risk factors.
  • Vision Your eyes change with age  and you run the risk of developing glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eyes, and loss of peripheral vision.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm — This is a standard check of the heart for men 65 to 75, who have smoked.
  • Osteoporosis — Bone-density tests are covered once every two years for women over 65. Post-menopausal women younger than 65 should also be screened.
  • Hepatitis C — Medicare covers at least one screening for adults born specifically between 1945 and 1965.
  • HIV — Older adults at higher risk include people with multiple partners, men who have had sex with other men, and people with past and present injection drug use.
  • Other STIs — Sexually active adults at all ages should be screened regularly.

Cancer screening senior

Cancer screenings

Age is a leading risk factor in a number of cancer types, though it’s not really clear why. So, it’s incredibly important to get screened. A number of cancers are easily detectible and can be treated successfully if diagnosed early.

  • Colorectal cancer — Routine screening should start at 50 unless there is a family history. Then it should be earlier and more often. Otherwise, a colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years.
  • Breast cancer — Medicare covers screening mammograms every 12 months.
  • Cervical cancer — Older women who have never been screened should have a Pap smear at least once. Women at high risk should have one every 12 months. 
  • Lung cancer This screening is recommended for adults aged 55-80 who were heavy smokers (about 30-packs a year) or who quit in the last 15 years.
  • Prostate cancer — Men can choose between a digital rectal exam or a prostate-specific antigen test. Screenings are recommended between 55 and 69 years of age.

Doctor with tablet senior

Mental and safety screenings

When your AltaMed doctor asks questions about your life and what’s been on your mind, it’s not just to be polite: they may be looking for clues about your mood, mental state, and mental sharpness. These are delicate topics, but your answers can help identify:

  • Depression — The goal is to make sure you are not on a path that could lead to harming yourself or others. Therapy, medication, or a combination can help control depression.
  • Cognitive impairment — Cognitive Impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life, and ranges from mild to severe. Doctors want to ensure you can still function in your current living situation. This may require input from a caregiver.
  • Falls and functional ability — Part of Medicare’s Annual Wellness Visit includes looking at the ability to manage the activities of daily living. Doctors will ask questions about mobility and the risk of falling which could lead to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or breaking a hip, wrist, or some other joint. 
  • Substance use — Someone who has been drinkingsmoking or doing drugs their entire life will eventually pay the price for it. Answer honestly about alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drug use.

PACE Yourself with AltaMed

Making these screenings a regular part of your healthy habits could help you feel great and stay independent for longer. Talk to your doctor to get their personalized recommendations.

If you’re a caregiver or a senior with complex medical needs, AltaMed PACE offers coordinated care and services, including medical treatment, physical therapy, and social services. The program even offers meals, exercise, social activities, and transportation for qualified seniors. 

There are 11 AltaMed PACE facilities in the greater Los Angeles area including two new locations in Orange County:

Anaheim
1325 N. Anaheim Blvd., Suite 100
Anaheim, California 92801

Santa Ana
3601 W. Sunflower Ave., Suite 100
Santa Ana, California 92704

AltaMed PACE has made a difference for seniors like Antonio, Kenneth, and Rodolfo and Bertha – it may be right for you, too. 

For more information about services or eligibility, visit AltaMed.org/PACE or call (855) 252-PACE (7223).

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Helping Participants Return to AltaMed PACE Safely

January 27, 2021

As with all of our facilities, we are making great efforts to protect our AltaMed PACE participants and staff. We know PACE is an important resource for seniors with complex health needs, and their caregivers. Learn more about how we’re continuing to serve you during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What We’re Doing?

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We are following guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

These include:

  • Participants and staff wearing protective equipment
  • Cleaning and disinfecting high-contact areas
  • Reserving PACE day care centers for members who have acute needs or do not have a safe home alternative
  • Continuing to see those who need routine care for chronic conditions or urgent issues at our PACE medical sites. If you think you need medical attention, please contact your primary care provider, who may recommend either an office visit or a telehealth appointment.

How PACE Participants and Their Families Can Protect Their Household

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Everyone at your home should avoid seeing family and friends who do not live with you. This will help protect our PACE participants and your loved ones by reducing the possibility of bringing the coronavirus into your home.

  • Wash your hands often and clean surfaces that are touched often, like door handles and faucets.
  • When you have to meet with people outside your household, maintain a distance of at least six feet. Meet outside or in a space with good ventilation.
  • If any of your household members have been to large gatherings (which is strongly discouraged), or have been around a lot of different people, they should isolate themselves to avoid the PACE participant while inside the home. Avoid sleeping in the same room, stay away from family members who feel sick or have been around someone sick, and don’t hug, kiss, or share food or drinks.
  • Wear a mask to reduce your risk of catching a coronavirus infection and spreading it to others. Anytime you leave home and are around others, wear a mask. Even if you are inside your home with people who live with you, if they have been at any social gatherings or haven’t used a mask while outside the home, you should all wear masks.
  • Stay flexible. Please remember that this is an evolving situation and things change rapidly. We promise to communicate regularly.

We thank PACE participants and their families for their patience. The actions we all take now can help us protect each other. And hopefully, before too long, we can safely welcome you back to our PACE centers with open arms and open hearts!

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.

AltaMed PACE is enrolling participants to provide all-inclusive care for our seniors 55 years and older during COVID-19.

To learn more about how AltaMed PACE can help, please call (855) 252-7223 or visit us at PACE website link.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes to Help You Get Your Cholesterol Under Control

August 27, 2020

Maybe your doctor has told you that you have high cholesterol levels, or you suspect you’re one of the 134 million people in the U.S. who have elevated cholesterol. You may wonder how serious it is, or what you can do to get your cholesterol levels under control.

High cholesterol is not a disease itself, but it’s a condition that puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. If you have elevated levels of cholesterol, you won’t experience any symptoms. Your doctor can give you a simple blood test that measures the cholesterol in your blood.

Good Cholesterol Versus Bad Cholesterol

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Cholesterol is carried through your body on two different types of proteins:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol. This type of cholesterol contributes to fatty buildups in your arteries. If you have too much LDL, you could be at greater risk for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol. It is believed that the HDL in your blood carries the LDL away from your artery and back to your liver, where it is broken down and passed out of the body.

When your doctor tests your cholesterol, they’ll measure the total cholesterol, as well as your levels of LDLs and HDLs, and then make recommendations based on these numbers.

Even if you’re not worried about your cholesterol but want to improve your heart health, the tips below are a good start!

Exercise More

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Doing moderate physical activity can help you reduce the bad kind of cholesterol. Aim for at least 30 minutes five days a week.
How to do it: Just start moving! Even a vigorous walk around the block counts as cardio exercise. Although you’ll get the best results with cardio, strength training can also help control your cholesterol.

Add More Fiber to Your Diet

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Eating soluble fiber—which dissolves in water to form a gel-like material—can prevent cholesterol from entering your bloodstream. This can also aid weight loss efforts by making you feel full for longer, and fiber can help prevent constipation.
Where to find it: apples, pears, oatmeal, Brussels sprouts, oat bran, almonds.

Eat Less Red Meat

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Red meats, such as beef, pork, and lamb are high in saturated and trans fats which can raise your cholesterol level and increase your risks for high blood pressure and heart disease.
How to do it: White-meat, skin-off chicken and fish are healthy proteins, and there are also many delicious meatless options you can try. Fish/seafood like salmon, mackerel, oysters, sardines, and anchovies are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health and may lower your bad cholesterol.

Cut Down on Full-Fat Dairy Products

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Whole-fat dairy foods like milk, cheese, cream, and ice cream are high in saturated fats and cholesterol and can raise your LDL levels.
How to do it: Look for low-fat or cholesterol-free versions of your favorites. Swapping 2% milk for regular milk still gives you all the bone-building calcium and nutrients but without the cholesterol. Instead of ice cream, try a fruit sorbet or sherbet.

Quit Smoking

Smoking tobacco and using products like vapes are some of the worst things you can do for your health. Cigarette smoke raises your LDLs and lowers your HDLs – in addition to putting you at greater risk for many diseases and ailments, including COVID-19.
How to do it: Quitting is often easier said than done, especially if you’ve smoked for a while. Our Behavioral Health Services team can offer you support and make recommendations to support your journey to go tobacco free.

Lose Extra Weight

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Being overweight can increase your cholesterol levels and put you at higher risk for heart disease, so even losing just a couple of pounds can help lower your cholesterol.
How to do it: Making a few simple lifestyle changes like the ones outlined here can help you lose weight at a safe and steady pace. Your doctor can give you more information and make personalized recommendations.

Skinny People Can Have High Cholesterol, Too!

Anyone is susceptible to high cholesterol, including young people, athletes, women, men—basically everyone. Some of the risks are related to lifestyle, but certain health and genetic conditions can contribute to high cholesterol which is why changing your diet isn’t always enough. Many people with high cholesterol can use cholesterol medications to manage their levels but lowering your cholesterol with healthy lifestyle choices should always be the first choice.

You Have Support

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We encourage you to work with your doctor to get your numbers down and grow healthy! If you’re interested in our Healthy Heart Program, which helps individuals achieve healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, please call (323) 558-7606.