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It goes without saying we are suffering from COVID-19 fatigue. Along with plans, celebrations, and vacations that have been canceled or postponed, the CDC reports concerns about the virus have caused four in 10 adults to delay or cancel routine health visits.  

As March is National Colorectal Cancer Month, we might use this as a prompt to think about what screenings we and our loved ones should have. Not only should we be looking out for our own health, but we may need to remind our spouses, partners, and other family members how important it is to take care of themselves.

 

Health checks for everyone:

Blood pressure should be checked at least every two years in adults 50 and older.

Bloodwork should be performed regularly to evaluate your overall health and how well your organs are working. 

Colon cancer screening is recommended every five to 10 years for everyone from age 45 to 75. While colonoscopy is most frequently recommended, ask your doctor what other options are available.

Dental exams and teeth cleaning are recommended twice a year.

Eye exams are essential, especially after age 50. Routine eye care can help you get ahead of any changes in your vision.

Hearing screenings for adults should be done at least every decade through age 50 and at three-year intervals thereafter.  

Lung cancer screenings are recommended for anyone 55 and older who has a history of heavy smoking and currently smokes or has quit within 15 years.

Skin and mole checks are important, particularly after age 50. Have an annual head-to-toe exam to check out suspicious freckles or moles.

Depression and mental health issues are common and can be serious issues if untreated. All individuals older than age 60 should be screened periodically.

Early memory screening is beneficial for those who have experienced age-related memory loss or are 65 or older.

Vaccines: along with a Covid-19 vaccine, ask your doctor about vaccines for influenza, pneumonia, shingles, TDAP, and a TD booster.

 

For women:

Cervical cancer and HPV screenings call for a Pap test every three years, or an HPV test every five years up to age 65. Women between 65 and 70 who have had three normal tests within the past 10 years can stop having Pap tests.

Mammograms should be performed annually between ages 50 and 74. Testing for women 75 and older is recommended every two years. Yearly breast exams and regular self-exams can help detect cancer in its early stages.

Bone density scans of the hip and spine should be performed at age 60 for at-risk women and at 65 and older for all women. Women age 50 and older who have broken a bone at some point should also undergo a scan. 

Full hormone profiles can be beneficial for women in perimenopause or menopause, when sudden or drastic hormone fluctuations can occur.

 

For men:

Regular prostate exams and PSA blood tests should start at age 50. Earlier testing is recommended for African Americans, or if you have a close relative with prostate cancer. 

Abdominal aortic aneurysm affects men much more than women. A one-time screening with ultrasound should be performed if you are 65 to 75 and have ever smoked.

 

Note that these are just guidelines. Depending on your health history, you may need additional tests after age 50. It’s important to talk to your primary care provider about what you need to maintain your health as you age.  

Get out your calendars, book your appointments, and stay on the path to a happy, healthy life! 

 

Judith A. Rucki is a public relations consultant and freelance writer. 

 

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