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.
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.
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.
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 drinking, smoking 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:
1325 N. Anaheim Blvd., Suite 100
Anaheim, California 92801
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.